Neighbor paid Muhammad Ali in bologna sandwiches to babysit his three children
Lawrence Montgomery witnessed the making of a legend when then Cassius Clay would wake up early before school and run to Chickasaw Park and then run alongside the school bus instead of getting on it.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Imagine having Muhammad Ali as your family's babysitter -- sounds pretty cool right? We’re now getting a glimpse into "The Champ's" early years through the stories of his next door neighbor, Lawrence Montgomery.
“To Lawrence, from Muhammad Ali. My first boss. August of ‘84. I treasure that. I really like that.”
Montgomery read the note from his former friend and neighbor while recalling the good old days. He even pulled out an old photo album that brought to life his fondest memories of the kid next door.
“We called him GG. That was for golden gloves. He loves the golden gloves,” Montgomery told WDRB News.
But the rest of the world knew him as Muhammad Ali.
“He told me one day he was going to be the heavy weight champion of the world. I said, ‘boy, you must be crazy talking like that.’” Montgomery said.
While the world may have thought he was crazy, the boxing legend was confidently determined to become "The Greatest."
“He said, ‘no I mean it.’ And you know what, he proved me wrong and I'm glad he did,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery saw the dedication in his spirit from a young age when he hired the future champ and his brother to babysit his three children.
“I didn't have to pay them anything because they only wanted some food. I made sure they had bologna sandwiches,” Montgomery said.
He said Ali knew the value of hard work. He remembered witnessing the making of a legend when then Cassius Clay would wake up early before school and run to Chickasaw Park and back.
“Then when the school bus came, he wouldn't get on the bus. He would run alongside the bus all the way from 32nd Street up to 8th Street."
While he eventually became known throughout the world as a boxing giant, Montgomery said it didn’t change him.
“He never did forget home and the family at home. He never did forget that,” he said.
Montgomery, who knew him before all the glitz and glam, said it was his heart and soul that truly made him the greatest.
Montgomery last saw Muhammad Ali in September when he was presented the Grawemeyer Spirit Award from the University of Louisville.
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