Muhammad Ali is widely regarded as one of the most significant sporting celebrities.
While his legacy will continue to live on, he will also be known for being something more.
Ali once saved a man standing on a ninth floor ledge from committing suicide. The incident occurred in Los Angeles in 1981. The boxer, who was in his home a mile away, stepped up and talked to the African American individual who was threatening to jump, as reported by FOX News.
“I’m your brother, I want to help you,” Ali called out to the man in an effort to comfort him and talk him out of jumping. After a tense 20 minutes, Ali succeeded in getting through to the man. The individual, who Ali said wept after the incident, was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, the Independent reports.
Ali also had a significant influence over the life of PBS host and Sunday Morning contributor, Tavis Smiley. When Smiley was 12, he was accused by the minister at his church of something he hadn’t committed. As a result, his father, who was a trustee at the church, beat Smiley, enough to send him in a hospital.
The incident ruined their relationship, and the two remained estranged into Smiley’s adulthood. Ali, whose fights Smiley and his father would watch together when Smiley was young, became the “healing that helped to repair my relationship with my father,” Smiley said, as reported by CBS News.
Smiley hosted an event to honor the boxing legend and, as a surprise, took his father as a guest; and reserved a table for his father right next to Ali. The boxing star made Smiley’s father feel so important that tears came from his eyes.
“Ali was always the people’s champ, but his lifetime of giving to others is what he’ll be most treasured for,” Smiley said. “He felt that his love and service to everyday people was the rent he paid for the space he occupied.”
Earlier this week, Ali, who had been fighting Parkinson’s disease for more than 30 years, was taken to a hospital in Arizona with a respiratory condition. His death was confirmed by his family on Saturday.
“In a year where we’ve lost some good ones, the world is especially going to miss The Greatest of All Time,” Smiley said. “We all owe Muhammad Ali a debt that we can never repay. I know I do.”
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