Muhammad Ali the artist - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Muhammad Ali the artist

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB-TV) -- The whole world knew Muhammad Ali as a great boxer and humanitarian but there was a side of the champ that perhaps only his family and close friends knew about.

Ali was obviously good with his hands, but he also used them to crest artwork that you could say is priceless after this week.

"He got that honest, because he got that from his father," said Newton McCravy, from Ebenezer Baptist Church.

McCravy at historic Ebenezer in West Louisville.

She said, "His father was very well known within the Louisville community as a painter."

The church is home to murals painted and signed by Ali's father and brother.

"These are all based on bible stories," McCravy explained.

The greatest didn't take up the family business, but he always had a passion for drawing and writing. There was also always a message.

"Speaking of messages, let me tell you about the time President Carter invited Muhammad to the White House," said Lawrence Montgomery, who was Ali's childhood friend. "Muhammad invited me and my wife to come to the White House with him, and we did."

He said during a trip to the White House, Ali turned a menu into a keepsake full of inspirational messages.

"And he started writing, he said to Violet from Muhammad Ali. As we were eating lunch -- he had just six or seven quotes in there."

But the champ was not just limited to words when it came to pen and paper.

"Muhammad certainly got the artistic talents of his father," said Donald Lassere, President of The Muhammad Ali Center.

Lassere said in addition to boxing memorabilia, the center has several of Ali's drawings; they're not as elaborate as the murals his father and brother painted but all have a message.

Lassere said, "He would draw pictures and then of course write poetry to go along with those pictures."

One drawing is how Ali saw the crowd after one of his fights.

Lassere read the message for us, "This is how it looks when I looks when I look out of a boxing ring after a victory, I see a few smiles but most of the people are angry that it ended to quick."

Since his death, people have been bringing flowers, cards and other mementos to the Ali Center, but the family is requesting that in lieu of all of that, people make donations to the center.

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