CRAWFORD | Civic leaders, national politicians, celebrities and sports stars react to Ali's death
Reaction came in from around the nation and world after the news of Muhammad Ali's death broke after midnight Friday.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It wasn't a hospitable time for anyone. The news of Muhammad Ali's death, after most media had been alerted to it in the early afternoon of Friday, June 3, didn't come until after midnight on June 4.
That didn't stop cable sports network ESPN from remaining on the air for hours after the announcement of Ali's death, without commercial interruption.
Louisville mayor Greg Fischer, who had been in consultation with the Ali family for two days, released a statement saying that he would order all flags in Louisville to half-staff on Saturday at 10 a.m., and would hold a flag-lowering ceremony outside Metro Hall in downtown Louisville at 10 a.m.
"The values of hard work, conviction and compassion that Muhammad Ali developed while growing up in Louisville helped him become a global icon," Fischer said in a statement. "As a boxer, he became The Greatest, though his most lasting victories happened outside the ring. Muhammad leveraged his fame as a platform to promote peace, justice and humanitarian efforts around the world, while always keeping strong ties to his hometown. Today, Muhammad Ali’s fellow Louisvillians join the billions whose lives he touched worldwide in mourning his passing, celebrating his legacy, and committing to continue his fight to spread love and hope."
Many more statements of sympathy came in as the night went on. A gathering of them are below:
DONALD LASSERE, PRESIDENT AND CEO, MUHAMMAD ALI CENTER: "On behalf of everyone associated with the Muhammad Ali Center and everyone in the Louisville community who loved Muhammad, we want to express our deepest sympathies to his wife, Lonnie, and Muhammad's entire family. His wife, Lonnie, once said, that Muhammad belongs to the world. He was the People's Champion, one of the most recognized and beloved individuals on the face of the earth, co-founder of the Muhammad Ali Center, and an inspiration to all. He will be remembered for his love for all people, his athleticism, humanitarian deeds, social justice, and perhaps mostly...his courage in and outside of the ring. The Muhammad Ali Center was created to help preserve and share the life and legacy of Muhammad Ali. If you would like to express your condolences, your personal stories, or to help celebrate Muhammad's life, please come to the Ali Center today."
DAVID CAMERON, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM (via Twitter): "Muhammad Ali was not just a champion in the ring - he was a champion of civil rights, and a role model for so many people."
FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: "Hillary and I are saddened by the passing of Muhammad Ali. From the day he claimed the Olympic gold medal in 1960, boxing fans across the world knew they were seeing a blend of beauty and grace, speed and strength that may never be matched again. We watched him grow from the brash self-confidence of youth and success into a manhood full of religious and political convictions that led him to make tough choices and live with the consequences.
Along the way we saw him courageous in the ring, inspiring to the young, compassionate to those in need, and strong and good-humored in bearing the burden of his own health challenges. I was honored to award him the Presidential Citizens Medal at the White House, to watch him light the Olympic flame, and to forge a friendship with a man who, through triumph and trials, became even greater than his legend. Our hearts go out to Lonnie, his children, and his entire family.
SENATOR MITCH McCONNELL: "Elaine and I were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Muhammad Ali, one of the preeminent and most beloved athletes of the 20th century. Inside the ring, he was graceful on his feet and packed a powerful punch. Outside the ring, he thrilled us with his exuberance for life. He was more than just a boxer. He was The Greatest. His life story is an American story, and it’s a story that began in Louisville, Kentucky. Ali grew up in Louisville. He fought his first professional fight there. And Louisville is now the site of the Muhammad Ali Center, which will continue his legacy and preserve his life story for all to experience. Our thoughts are with the Ali family and the dedicated staff at the Ali Center in this time of grief.”
CONGRESSMAN JOHN YARMUTH: "The word champion has never fit a man better. Muhammad Ali was a champion for peace, a champion for justice, and a champion for equality. He was a man who gained fame in a violent game, but immortality as a gentle and caring soul. In the ring, there was no one better, but his contributions to humanity managed to eclipse his boxing prowess.
"I remember watching every one of his championship fights. I remember waiting for him at Standiford Field when he returned home after beating Liston, thinking to myself that I had never seen a more perfect human being. And I remember the loud-mouthed speedster by the name of Cassius Marcellus Clay, whose fights in and out of the ring would one day make him Muhammad Ali—a selfless giant who put principles over everything and never forgot the city he called home.
"I am just one of the many in Louisville whose heart aches for the loss of my friend, and yet, every corner of our community is better for his impact. At a time when fame so often comes with questionable character, Muhammad Ali is an ever present reminder that the most famous person in the world can be a real life hero. He really was the greatest."
LOUISVILLE METRO COUNCIL PRESIDENT DAVID YATES: "Our city, our Commonwealth, our nation and the world have lost “The Greatest." Not only was Muhammad Ali a legend in the world of sports, and considered by many to be the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time, he changed the world with what he did outside the ring. He was a champion for civil rights, religious freedom, and solving conflicts through peace and understanding. A man of humble beginnings right here in Louisville, who inspired young people to be the best they could be in whatever field they chose to pursue. To Lonnie and all the members of the Ali family, we on the Metro Council send our thoughts and prayers in this time of grief. Our city is honored to be known as the hometown of Muhammad Ali. May we follow his example as we work together for a better world for all.”
LOUISVILLE METRO COUNCILWOMAN JESSICA GREEN: “My family and I send our condolences to the Ali family. What a loss to all of America, and the city of Louisville as we mourn the passing of the greatest of all time, Muhammad Ali. The Champ was a native of District 1, and his legacy will forever live on in the lives of the little boys and girls who grow up in our community, who push themselves and know that they too, can be great. His life and journey let us all know that anything, particularly greatness, is possible with hard work, dedication, and faith. He was a giant for human and civil rights and a hero to all Americans, but particularly for the disenfranchised. Our native son, you will never be forgotten, and your legacy will live on throughout the ages.”
REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE DONALD TRUMP (via Twitter): Muhammad Ali is dead at 74! A truly great champion and a wonderful guy. He will be missed by all!
GEORGE FOREMAN (via Twitter): "Ali, Frazier & Foreman we were 1 guy. A part of me slipped away, "The greatest piece"
HANA ALI (via Instagram): Our father was a "Humble Mountain!" And now he has gone home to God. Pray for the peace of his beautiful soul and for the happiness of his further journey. God bless you daddy. YOU ARE THE LOVE OF MY LIFE!
MADONNA (via Instagram, with a picture of her with Ali): "This man, this king, this hero, this human. Words cannot express. . . . What is going on??!! We are losing all of our National Treasures. Our Pillars of Humanity. He was the Greatest!"
TOM JURICH: “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 U of L. 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.”
JOHN CALIPARI (via Twitter): "Muhammad Ali's passing is a sad day for our world. THE CHAMP! Thoughts and prayers to Lonnie and the Ali family."
LARRY KING (via Twitter): "I mourn the passing of Muhammad Ali. He was indeed "The Greatest." An American legend and a true Champion for the world.
RINGO STARR (via Twitter): "God bless Muhammad Ali. Peace and love to all his family."
MANNY PACQUIAO: "We lost a giant today," said Pacquiai. "Boxing benefited from Muhammad Ali's talents but not nearly as much as mankind benefitted from his humanity."
REV. AL SHARPTON (via Twitter): Ali, he was and always will be the greatest. A true champion in and out of the ring. May my friend rest in peace.
LIONEL RICHIE (via Twitter): You will always be my hero ... #MuhammadAli.
JERMAINE JACKSON (via Twitter): "As boys, we huddled around the radio as Muhammad Ali floored Sonny Liston. In 1975, he walked into, and blessed, our lives."
DAVID HASSELHOFF (via Twitter): "I had the honor of knowing #Muhammad Ali. He was simply The greatest inspiration to the whole world. Sad sad day."
OSCAR DE LA HOYA (via Twitter): "RIP Muhammad Ali, a legend who transcended sport and was a true champion for all."
MIKE TYSON (via Twitter): "God came for his champion. So long great one."
NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON (via Twitter): "His may be the Greatest of 20th century American stories. Muhammad Ali, rest In peace 1942-2016"
GABRIELLE UNION (via Twitter): " Rest in Peace and Eternal Glory Muhammad Ali. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
DEION SANDERS (via Twitter): "Please tell me it's not true that one of my childhood heroes Muhammad Ali has passed away. He is the greatest athlete of ALL TIME. Truth."
ALEX MORGAN (via Twitter): "Muhammad Ali was the first athlete I was truly inspired by. He was a true champion and forever a legend. RIP"
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