is only when a GIANT passes from among us and we stand blinking and
rubbing our eyes in the glaring reality of our loss that we come
truly to appreciate how much we all have really been just living in
it is with Muhammad Ali: he was an athlete of unparalleled
brilliance, beauty, and bravado at a time when Black athletes (other
than the Globetrotters ) were expected to be silent, self-effacing
"producers", not loquacious, verbose, entertaining
performers in the arena.
popular culture, he almost single handedly deepened our understanding
of “religious freedom" as something more than an American
"historical and political cliché".
influenced people from the most powerful (Dr. M.L. King,Jr. and
Robert Kennedy, etc.) to the most naive students and "draft
vulnerable" youths to rethink their positions on the issue of
"war and peace".
was the model for a generation of "activist athletes"
relative to the questions of athletic political relevance and
taught us all by word and example that there can be no "for
sale" sign, no "price tag" on principles, human
dignity, and freedom - among so many of his other contributions.
GREATEST"? Compared to whom, compared to what - of his era or
any other? "The Greatest" doesn't begin to truly capture
the magnitude and measure of the broad scope of his contributions and
stood astride the last half of the 20th Century like a statuesque
athlete colossus, the most recognizable human face on earth - one
foot firmly planted in the sports arena, the other in the world
beyond, dwarfing us all in both spheres.
athletic brilliance long since faded, now his very physical presence
among us will be missed - but his spirit of principled courage,
commitment, and sacrifice will always be with us because it has so
penetrated our visions of who we are on so many levels and impacted
our standards of what we should and could become.
DONE , CHAMP - AND GOD'S SPEED! R.I.P.!