Lonnie Ali says 'Thank You' to Louisville
Muhammad Ali's widow is embracing the role of preserving her husband's legacy.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The widow of Muhammad Ali has a simple message for the city he loved:
Thank you, Louisville, and remember his legacy.
WDRB’s Lawrence Smith sat down with Lonnie Ali for her first Louisville TV interview since Muhammad Ali passed way in June.
She talked about what was going through her mind as Louisville said goodbye to its favorite son.
“I was overwhelmed, and at the same time humbled, and at the same time so proud,” Lonnie Ali said in an interview at the Muhammad Ali Center.
It's a day Lonnie Ali, and this city, will never forget because of the outpouring of love and unity displayed as Ali's funeral procession wound its way through Louisville.
“People forgot about their differences. They forgot about whatever activities they may have been engaged in. I think there was no crime here then. There were definitely no murders,” she said.
It was a spirit, Ali says, she would like Louisville to embrace again, especially now, as violence continues to rise.
“I wish that would go on forever here. It was very special," she said. "I wish that feeling of togetherness, of uniting for a common cause, a common reason, would permeate this entire city, every community, every individual, and we could do that, be like that every day."
And she says that can happen if people would treat others as Ali did.
“People could unite behind Muhammad because Muhammad came to people without agenda. His only agenda was you. Whatever you had going on that day, whatever you were concerned about, he was concerned about. That's the way he was. And I think we have to be like that again. We have to make that human connection."
To that end, Lonnie has launched the "Ali in All of Us" initiative, designed to promote acts of service. It's one way she is taking up her husband's mantle and preserving his legacy.
“This bore down on me the moment he passed away, that I was the natural extension of Muhammad and, therefore, had to be even more like him than I was in the past,” she said.
And Louisville continues to embrace its favorite son through his family, most recently honoring them at the Florida State football game.
It was only appropriate that the Cardinal's greatest victory was dedicated to its Greatest fan.
“And I said to a friend of ours, John Ramsey, and to Tom Jurich, the AD, don't worry, we're going to win this game. There is no way that Muhammad's going to allow us to fail. He's got 56,000-thousand fans, and it's all about him...
"But I didn't know he was going to pull a Liston on them,” she smiled.
Lonnie Ali is holding a thank-you reception Tuesday at the Ali Center for all those who helped pull off that huge processional and memorial service on June 10.
She’ll be in Washington D.C. on Sept. 28 to accept the inaugural Jesse Owens Olympic Spirit Award on behalf of her late husband.
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