“The greatest” boxer may have just received the most moving tribute at the 2016 ESPY Awards.
During Wednesday night’s telecast at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, Muhammad Ali wasn’t just honored during the “In Memoriam” portion of the show. He also received a musical tribute from Chance the Rapper and thoughtful words from close friend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The basketball legend looked back at the very first time he met the Olympic medalist on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles where he was performing magic tricks for strangers walking by.
“I think that encounter epitomized everything that made Ali, at that point in time, the most famous man in the world,” he explained to the crowd that included Muhammad’s family. “His showmanship. His ubiquitousness. It just seemed like he was everywhere. And most of all, his magic.”
“That ability to make the impossible seem real. Every athlete handles fame in their own way,” he continued. “Some people revel in it. Some people aren’t so comfortable with it. Muhammad Ali used it to speak his mind.”
Kareem told the audience and viewers at home that he hopes people of all ages will ultimately remember his fearless fight to help solve injustices and important causes close to his heart.
“We’re never going to see his likes again walking down the street,” he explained. “But I hope his death spurs his successors to remember what truly made him the greatest.”
Tonight’s tribute comes more than two weeks after Laila Ali and Jamie Foxx remembered the athlete at the 2016 BET Awards.
During the awards show, Muhammad’s youngest daughter shared her greatest memories of the Olympic medalist.
“As my dad grew older, he evolved in his mind, his heart, and his spirit,” Laila shared while holding back tears. “But one thing that never changed was his love and gratitude for all people.”
“My father also once said if people love each other as much as they love me, it would be a better world,” she continued. “If he was here today, he would humbly ask you to pray not just for our family, but for all of mankind.”