Work ethic is a learned skill for many, passed down by parents, coaches, and other mentors.

New York Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon is quick to credit his work ethic to an unlikely source: His childhood pet donkey.

According to a profile by Dan Barry in The New York Times, Colon's upbringing in the Dominican Republic was very centered around hard work -- to such a degree that he often had to sneak away from his father's oversight to play baseball.

Colon also spent a lot of time with his pet donkey, Pancho, while working for his father. As he grew older, he began to prove himself as a natural baseball talent, drawing interest from scouts.

The NYT article reports that while the young Colon did not possess a typical pitcher's physique, "he possessed obvious talent and a commitment to hard work, a trait that Colon once said he learned from the likes of Pancho."

Of course, Colon's way of life also instilled a commitment to hard work -- the pitcher built arm strength by de-pulping 1,000 crates of coffee beans in a single day, per the NYT.

At any rate, Pancho has been immortalized in Colon's training complex built in his hometown of El Copey. A wall illustration tells the story of Pancho and his important role in the Cy Young winner's life.

It just goes to show you: Never forget where you came from, and remember to thank all the people -- and donkeys -- who helped you reach your dreams.

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