It’s pretty remarkable that when you list off the accomplishments of Muhammad Ali during his life, being the greatest boxer of all time isn’t even near the top.
Ali succumbed to a decades long battle with Parkinson’s Disease yesterday at the age of 74.
An outpouring of grief is being heard around the world. Major figures in the sports world are feeling this tremendous loss, including San Antonio Spurs’ point guard Tony Parker.
It’s a testament to the amount of influence Ali had on the world. He was able to touch a lot of people with his commitment to the very best ideals of humanity and peace.
Beyond just a great fighter inside the ring, Ali was a civil rights icon and humanitarian who always seemed to be focused on confronting the macro ills of the world we live in.
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Along with being a 3-time Heavyweight Champion of the world, Ali helped to make the world a better place than when he first inhabited it. In terms of our collective duty to mankind, he led an incredible life.
The legacy that Ali leaves is powerfully exemplified by looking at the landscape of professional sports today. In a league like the NBA, athletes are empowered to use their platform for social change in large part because of the sacrifices of athletes like Ali before them.
LeBron James had a very reflective statement on what Ali meant to him and his fellow athletes.
“It’s what he did outside the ring, what he believed in, what he stood for, along with Jim Brown and Oscar Robertson, Lew Alcindor… Bill Russell, Jackie Robinson. Those guys stood for something. He’s part of the reason why African-Americans today can do what we do in the sports world,” James commented.
Modern athletes often feel suffocated by the repercussions of taking social stances, due to pressure to conform to how sponsors want them to act.
When Ali exercised his right as a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War, he was willing to risk his career and future earning potential by standing up for what he believed in. It was a courageous stance and emphasized where his priorities were.
Thank you for paving the way for other athletes to use their platform to stand up for what they believe in. Much appreciation for all you did to make the world a better place. R.I.P. to The Greatest.