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Ravens fan takes last breath with Wild Card win

Longtime Ravens fan takes last breath after Wild Card win.

Update: Super-fan Ronnie Akers death hasn't gone unnoticed by at least one member of his favorite team. On Wednesday morning, wide receiver Torrey Smith tweeted: "RIP Ronnie Akers."

It's not unusual to describe a super-fan as living for his team. But, Ronnie Akers took those words more literally than most.

The longtime Baltimore Ravens fan drew his last breath Saturday within a few minutes of learning that his team had defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers and would advance in the playoffs.

"Who does that?" asks Stephanie Ramirez, a family friend. "People hold on for a long-lost relative. Who holds on for a football team?"

Akers died at age 65 from cancer of the liver and esophagus.

Every room in the Taneytown home that he shared with his wife, Toni, was filled with Ravens memorabilia. He was the kind of fan who wore his purple Ravens cap no matter the season. He donned the "lucky cap" Dec. 28 to spur the Ravens to a needed victory over the Cleveland Browns, according to Mark Stapleton, his nephew and friend.

Akers, who was diagnosed with cancer about a year ago, began going rapidly downhill and had been in hospice since a day or two after Christmas, Ramirez says. His wife and Stapleton told him that it was OK to let go.

Stapleton said that, though Akers had stopped eating, drinking and talking and though he no longer could see, he continued to cling to life day after day.

"We couldn't figure out what he was holding on for," Ramirez says. "Then, someone joked that maybe he was waiting on that last Ravens-Steelers game."

Just before the kickoff Saturday, Ramirez covered Akers with his Ravens hoodie and placed his cap next to his pillow. Though the ailing man couldn't see the game, he could hear it -- and his wife and nephew were in the room with him describing the action.

"When the game was over, they told him what the final score was," Ramirez says. Within minutes, he was dead.

Says Stapleton: "He wanted to see the Steelers getting their butts kicked one last time."

The funeral service will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Haight Funeral Home in Sykesville.

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