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Ali made us look at ourselves

The passing of boxing legend Muhammad Ali was more than just the death of a legendary athlete. His death this past week was reminiscent of the death of icons like Elvis, and more recently, the musician Prince.

Ali became a humanitarian in the latter stages of his boxing career and his battle with Parkinson’s disease became the fight of his life and inspired so many others battling their own physical, mental and emotional ailments.

Perhaps it was comedian Billy Crystal who said it best during his comments at Ali’s memorial service Friday in Louisville, Kentucky, when he said Ali “struck us in the middle of America’s darkest night.”

“Ali forced us to take a look at ourselves. This brash young man thrilled us, angered us, confused us, challenged us, ultimately became a silent messenger of peace and taught us that life is best when you build bridges between people and not walls,” said Crystal.

And whether you loved him or hated him for his brashness in and out of the boxing ring or his stance to avoid being drafted to fight in Vietnam, you knew who he was. And what Ali turned out to be was more than just a boxer.

Rest in peace “Champ.”