Muhammad Ali, icon, legend, dead at 74

A photo posted by Muhammad Ali (@muhammadali) on

My “voice,” as writers call it, has been missing. I’ve been searching for it for quite some time. Just ask my parents, Stiletto Jill, Michael Tillery, Nate Jones, Freshalina and Dallas Penn. They all know. Ask, the Lord above, for He certainly knows.

Muhammad Ali has left us, and suddenly I’ve found my voice.

His passing marks the end to an era, and you “best believe” he was an era all by himself. When he told us he “shook up the world,” he never lied.

Not only did he change the world in the ring, he altered the landscape outside of it, forever. When he refused to accept induction into the United States Army on April 28, 1967, almost 50 years ago, he demonstrated a brazen act of courage (not defiance) never before seen. It could have cost him his career, and while he experienced a setback, a three-year banishment from the boxing, he never wavered, and ultimately returned to the ring to become a champion, again.

He was focused and dedicated to his craft, but he made it look easy and beautiful. Yes, Mr. Ali, was indeed pretty. His charm was of legend, his heart, of gold.

Stories of Muhammad Ali’s friendships and rivalries with fellow boxers, George Foreman and Joe Frazier, are like parables.

Ali was an enigma and a master of ceremony “at the same damn time.”

At age 42, Muhammad Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Syndrome. The manner in which he lived with and battled against the disease demonstrated strength and the will to endure. Remember when he carried the Olympic torch? Where were the dry eyes in that moment?

Muhammad Ali didn’t just touch Louisville (his birthplace,) Chicago, New York, and Kinshasha, Zaire, he touched the world. His legacy will live on, not only in his own children and grandchildren, but also in the lives of anyone he has ever influenced.

We lost him, but he will never be gone from us.

Float like a butterfly, Champ.

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