In the tributes following Muhammad Ali's death on June 3, we're reminded that this man was The Greatest for people around the world. For those of us in Louisville, it has been a special privilege to grow up and grow old along with him, in his own hometown.
It was the mid-1970s and Muhammad Ali was my new hero. To me, a grade-schooler, he was larger than life and yet so down-to-earth. My parents were in his inner circle, which gave me magical memories and personal insights on greatness.
Yesterday I was at my usual post at the Hispanic Clinic in New Haven, CT. Around the table were people from five countries
Ali with The Beatles in 1964 "They don't look at fighters to have brains. They don't look at fighters to be businessmen, or
Long live "The People's Champion."
I wish I had met him. I wish I had known him. But I did have two brief encounters with him that helped cement my love for what he stood for.
The hero's body will be returned to his hometown.
As the world mourns the death of Muhammad Ali, we might want to remember that it wasn't always safe even to like him. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, Ali was arguably the most polarizing figures in sports. In fact, he was one of the most polarizing figures in America.
Looking back on this remarkable life, it seems to me that Muhammad Ali changed nearly everything. He and I are nearly the same age and so our lives ran in parallel paths that seldom crossed but often swept across similar territory.
Muhammad Ali defined my assimilation as an American and growth as global citizen. He was so different that we might have expected him to go to the grave screaming of his greatness. However, we all saw a piece of ourselves in him, and his greatest character strength was that he saw in everyone he met a connection to the higher.