Saturday, September 16, 2006

So, yeah, just your typical Friday afternoon lunch break...stretch the muscles after a lot of sitting, go find some grub, and meet the most famous person on the face of the Earth.

This was the thrill of all thrills for me. I won a game of "horse" against the best female player I've ever seen, and I've gone one-on-one in a pickup game with my idol growing up. I've had drinks with the guy who hit the most famous shot in basketball history. But this is a whole different level of chills running down my spine.

I had a history professor gracious enough my senior year in college to allow me to write my senior thesis paper on Ali's impact in American society during a ten year stretch coinciding with Vietnam. To say that Ali became my life would be accurate, as I devoured every bit of information I could. If there's any subject I consider myself to be an "expert" on, Muhammad Ali is it.

Physically, as you would imagine, he's merely a shell of himself, as the years in the ring and Parkinson's disease have taken their toll. But when children from a local elementary school met with him, he was playful and had a light in his eyes that was a tremendous joy to see. It was also a great honor to meet and chat briefly with his wife Lonnie.

Unfortunately, I had to get back to work and missed out on the chance to see a future President of the United States, who was running a few minutes late to meet with Ali.


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