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Muhammad Ali

He was the prototypical angry black man.  He wanted something that people of his color thought they deserved.  He wanted more than what the white culture of the time was willing to give him.  Respect.  Respect for his religion. Respect for his view that war was unjust.  Respect for his humanity.  Respect for his race.  Respect for his chosen name.  At no small sacrifice, he earned that respect for himself and for more than just himself.

More than 20 years ago, I was working an evening basketball game following an afternoon fight shown on ABC Sports.  We were just coming into the arena.  The fights had been over for almost an hour.  At that moment, The Greatest, then hobbled by Parkinson’s disease was slowly shuffling out of the arena.   The remaining crowd stood waiting for just this moment in quiet reverence as my fellow crew members and I did.  It was a mark of respect earned at great cost by an athlete who had no equal and a man whose greatness outside the ring earned respect and equality for so many.

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