IN THEIR WORDS: Reflections as Muhammad Ali laid to rest


By The Associated Press



By The Associated Press

As Muhammad Ali is laid to rest with a public funeral and private burial, some of the world’s most famous faces reflect on a man known simply as “The Greatest.”

A gravesite service and public memorial for Ali were held Friday after a procession in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

___

“We all have an Ali story. It’s the gifts we all have that should be most honored today. Because he released them to the world. Never wasting a day, that we could see, anyway. … We should honor him by letting our gifts go among the world as he did.” — former President Bill Clinton.

___

“When I was done, he gave me this big bear hug and he whispered in my ear, ‘You’re my little brother.’” — comedian Billy Crystal on Ali’s first reaction to his impression of the boxing great.

___

“Daddy’s looking at us now right, and saying, ‘I told you I was the greatest.’” — daughter Rasheda Ali-Walsh.

___

“If Muhammad didn’t like the rules, he rewrote them. His religion, his name, his beliefs were his to fashion, no matter what the costs.” — wife Lonnie Ali.

___

“You couldn’t have made him up. And yes, he was pretty, too.” — President Barack Obama, in a statement read by senior adviser Valerie Jarrett at Ali’s public memorial.

___

“The friendship we developed I think was puzzling to many people, especially to those who only saw our differences. … Where others saw differences, Ali and I saw kinship.” — U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah.

___

“We saw him not just as a champion in the sports world, but as a champion for his beliefs and feelings in many of us that opposed the (Vietnam) war. We felt like he was speaking for us. We identified with him.” — U.S. Rep. John Lewis on Ali’s relationship with civil right leaders.

___

“He dared to love black people at a time when black people had a problem loving themselves. He dared to affirm the beauty of blackness.” — Rev. Kevin W. Cosby, senior pastor, St. Stephen Church, Louisville, Kentucky.

___

“‘The Greatest?’ Compared to who? Compared to what, of his era or any other? ‘The Greatest’ doesn’t begin to truly capture the magnitude and measure of his broad scope, contributions and legacy. He stood astride the last four decades of the 20th Century like a statuesque athlete colossus, the most recognizable human face on Earth, one foot firmly planted in the sports arena, the other in the world beyond, eventually dwarfing us all in both spheres.” — sociologist and professor Harry Edwards

___

“I feel like Louisville KY is now my home, as I’ll make many visits to Ali’s beloved resting place in the future.” — heavyweight boxer George Foreman.

___

“We saw an expression of the extraordinary strength of his human spirit during the Olympic Games Atlanta 1996, when The Greatest Of All Time did not hesitate to expose his affliction when lighting the Olympic cauldron. One can only imagine what it meant to this champion, who was so proud of his physique and good looks, to expose his own frailty with the eyes of the world on him. This inspirational act gave hope and strength to the billions of spectators around the globe. It was his greatest Olympic moment and I was not alone to wipe the tears from my eyes.” — International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach

___

“He was my idol, my friend, my mentor. He was someone that I looked up to and someone who I tried to emulate during my boxing career.” — boxer Sugar Ray Leonard

___

“His dignity in the ring and his sense of heroism beyond the ring made him a living legend. … He never stopped winning battles whether it was in the ring or outside the ring.” — Rev. Jesse Jackson

___

“It’s the end of an era and a sad day for the world. Muhammad Ali once asked me to sing ‘I am, I said’ for him at my office. Of course, I did.” — singer Neil Diamond

___

“There were a lot of guys back then that you looked up to as men, as opposed to sports figures, because of what they did walking away from the game, as opposed to what they did in the ring. So, as a young man growing up, that taught me a lot as far as respecting myself and understanding what I need to do growing up as a man.” — New York Jets coach Todd Bowles

By The Associated Press

comments powered by Disqus