Muhammad Ali conveys some important lessons on final journey

The community farewell for Muhammad Ali may be remembered most of all for all the different people who wanted to say goodbye to him.

The most well-known Muslim in the world planned his service to include people of several different creeds, including representatives of the Jewish, Mormon, Buddist, Roman Catholic and Protestant faiths.

Wagging his fingers even in death, telling the world religions to quit hating, to heed their God, to respect each other, and get along.

He ensured that members of both political parties would be represented at his memorial service. Republican Orrin Hatch and former President Bill Clinton were both eager to recount memories of lasting friendships with the champ.

Friends with liberals and conservatives, rebuffing those who would deny a voice to those with different political beliefs.

People of all ages, races and socio-economic status, an estimated 100,000-plus of them, lining the streets in parts of Southeast Louisville, West Louisville and East Louisville to pay their respects.

All four of the primary local TV stations providing week-long coverage of the funeral plans, enabling dozens and dozens of Louisvillians to tell their personal stories about encounters with Muhammad Ali. The stations also providing day-long coverage of the funeral procession and the memorial service.

Many of them tossing flowers in his path, some running along the funeral procession, others wanting to touch the hearse. Wanting to hang on to him as long as possible.

A day when Louisvillians came together to celebrate one of their own, recognizing someone very special has passed from their midst, leaving them with some memories and lessons in a way that only he could convey.

The Crowd

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Mangok Mathiang, David Levitch and Deng Adel were with the UofL basketball team at the service.
Mangok Mathiang, David Levitch and Deng Adel were with the UofL basketball team at the service. (Photo by Cindy Rice Shelton.)

Among the attendees at the Muhammad Ali memorial service were members of the University of Louisville basketball team. Ali was a frequent spectator at many different UofL athletic events.

Louisville baseball team will pay respects to Muhammad Ali

Members of the University of Louisville baseball team will have an opportunity to pay their respects to the late Muhammad Ali on Thursday, a day before his funeral on Friday.

Dan McDonnell
Dan McDonnell

Especially appropriate for the UofL team to be involved in events surrounding the farewell to the three-time heavyweight champion because he was so close to the team, currently preparing to host an NCAA Super Regional.

“As a program and as a team, we’re going to get together with Lonnie and her family because we can’t attend the funeral on Friday,” said Coach Dan McDonnell during a press conference Wednesday at Jim Patterson Stadium.

Asaad Ali was a catcher on the UofL baseball team from 2009 through 2012.
Asaad Ali was a catcher on the UofL baseball team from 2009 through 2012.

“She has been so gracious to allow the team to get together with her. I think that’s going to be a neat opportunity for our players to meet with Lonnie and help her through this time.”

Asaad Ali, the son of Muhammad and Lonnie Ali, was a member of the UofL baseball team, a catcher from 2009 to 2012. Asaad is currently an assistant coach on the baseball team at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, Iowa.

The Alis contributed a $50,000 scholarship to the baseball program. Muhammad attended numerous games over the years. Some family members intend to go to Omaha if the Cardinals get that far.

The players are also wearing an Ali patch on their caps in a tribute to the champ. The first day of the Super Regional was delayed a day to Saturday because of Ali’s funeral on Friday.

Muhammad Ali inspired fellow University of Louisville fans

muhammed-ali-quote-on-fitness-observatoryMuhammad Ali attended many University of Louisville athletic events over the years, always a UofL fan, always an inspiration to his fellow fans.

Back in the early nineties, a standing ovation at Fairgrounds Stadium when he was introduced, 36,000 voices proclaiming “Ali! Ali! Ali!” Even Tennessee football fans that night were joining the chorus.

Ali was on the 50-yard line at the 2007 BCS Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida for the UofL-Wake Forest game. The biggest game in UofL football history, he had to be there, joining the 35,000 fans from Louisville making the trip.

When Asaad Ali, his adopted son, was playing for the UofL baseball team in 2010 and 2011, Muhammad was a frequent visitor to Jim Patterson Stadium, joining Tom Jurich in the hospitality suite, even making financial contributions to the Louisville baseball program.

Jurich issued the following statement after Ali’s death:

“All of us in the Cardinal Athletics family are deeply, deeply saddened with the passing of an absolute worldwide legend in Muhammad. While he was undoubtedly one of the greatest athletes in history, the Champ made a difference in the lives of so many around the world.

“His generosity with his time for anything we asked of him — or things he offered to do without us asking — was incredible, as was the financial commitment he and Lonnie made to our baseball program at UofL.  It was a true honor for me to know him and he will be greatly missed.  Our deepest sympathies and prayers go out to Lonnie and the entire family.”

Coach Rick Pitino joined in commemorating Ali:

“All of Louisville celebrates the life of our Champion.  “He shined brightest in the ring and preached peace outside of it.  He loved babies, people and cherished his friends.  We will miss you Champ.  Rest in Peace.”

This UofL fan will never forget the time his family bumped into the Champ at a Kentucky Derby breakfast in Frankfort, Muhammad Ali pulling my 4-year-old son from my arms, lifting him high and placing a kiss on his cheek. Remember thinking, “The most famous person in the world, that man.”

Always reaching out, engaging and absorbing, Muhammad Ali making people feel better about themselves and the world.

UofL fan John Ramsey joins ESPN 680 lineup

John Ramsey
John Ramsey

John Ramsey, a longtime local radio personality and comedian, has joined the ESPN 680 radio lineup. He’s a staunch University of Louisville fan with the knowledge of the local sports scene to quickly become a force.

He’s going to provide a strong counter-punch to Matt Jones, the biased University of Kentucky fan, blogger and commentator, who delights as much in disparaging UofL athletics as he does in covering UK sports.

One difference is that Ramsey, a Ballard grad, actually played sports, including football and track. And he’s knowledgeable, with a quick wit and a wide assortment of skills

Ramsey strongly favors UofL even though he was once a member of UK’s track team. “What I didn’t like was the whole elitist thing with UK where they didn’t want to play UofL for so many years, like they were so far above us,” he said Monday on his 10 a.m. radio show. “It’s all about relationships with me. I got to know UofL coaches like Denny Crum, Howard Schnellenberger and other coaches over the years, and I’m a UofL fan.”

Among Ramsey’s considerable talents are his skills as an impressionist, often mimicking Howard Schnellenberger, Muhammad Ali and the late Howard Cosell. He had the hosts in stitches  on ESPN’s Early Birds show with a recent Schnelly call-in. Ramsey and Ali are, in fact, close friends. Watch for his exposure to quickly expand at ESPN.

He continues to host WAVE 3 Listens Live daily at noon on TV, and has worked for several local radio stations over the last 15 years.  He also is vice president of marketing and government affairs for the Ali Center and has worked in sports marketing at UofL. He also has performed at the Comedy Caravan.

Here’s a link to his version of the Big Blue Post Game Show.

Ed Kallay will finally be honored in Kentucky Hall of Fame

Word is that the late Ed Kallay, the play-by-play announcer for University of Louisville basketball and football in the Sixties and Seventies, will soon be inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame.

Ed Kallay

Ed Kallay worked at WAVE Radio and TV from 1948 to 1977. A man with a tremendous sense of humor, he was an avid Louisville fan, with an ability to make his listeners laugh whether the Cards were winning or losing.

Many long-time Cards fans will also recall his hosting such shows as The Magic Forest and Funny Flickers, as well as Tomorrow’s Champions where young Cassius Clay (who later changed his name to Muhammad Ali) got his start in boxing.

Shortly before he retired, Kallay hired Bob Domine as his assistant. They were cut from the same mode, sharing a sense of humor and a love of sports that endeared them them to local sports fans of all stripes. His son, Mike, served as Business Editor of The Louisville Times and as Editor of Business First.

Thanks for the legacy, Ed.