LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- While "The Greatest" was honored on the football field Saturday, others honored those who embody his spirit.

That's what happened at the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards.

This was the first year Muhammad Ali wasn't there in person, but supporters say he was very much there in spirit. Embodying the fighting spirit of Ali to help others, Muhammad Ali's wife Lonnie spoke of the importance of honoring humanitarians.

"He used to say it to Rasheda and Jamillah -- and to every one of his children," said Lonnie Ali. "Service to others is the rent we pay here for our room here on earth."

The gala honored 12 humanitarians, from adults to young people under 30. Cindy McCain was given the lifetime achievement award. She said she wants to make sure Ali's message isn't lost, specifically, "his work for human rights, for dignity, for respect, for courage -- for all that he talks about."

Ali's brother, Rahaman, says Ali was one of a kind.

"My brother was charming, humble, sweet, kind, considerate of other persons," he said.

Those in attendance say everyone near and far could feel his presence.

"He really was a gift, I think, from the universe, and he has taught us, really, truly, how to lead in our lives -- lead with what we really feel in our heart is right," said Joan Baker, of the Society of Voice Arts and Sciences.

Ali's children hope their father's legacy lives on for eternity and inspires new generations to come.

"My dad is man of honor and peace," said Rasheda Ali. "This is our first time at the humanitarian awards, and just seeing all these wonderful recipients out there, there's a little Ali in all of us."

The event tonight helps raise money for the Muhammad Ali Center so the organizations can continue to help the community.

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