Sting like a bee.
"The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses - behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights." - Muhammad Ali.
You'll work long hours, get little sleep, miss out on social and major life events, hustle harder than you thought possible. And then there are days like these. The ones that make every second of it worth it.
I got the honor of covering the memorial services for Muhammad Ali in Louisville. There are no words to adequately describe this day - but I’m going to try anyway.
Our morning started early on West Muhammad Ali Boulevard where we waited among thousands for the procession to pass by. The sheer amount of people who overflowed the streets of this city was mind-blowing. Yes, we all know him as The Greatest, but still, to see the physical representation, the faces, the hearts of the people he touched in one way or another is something I won’t soon forget.
Everyone had a story about Ali. And it’s funny, when you’re holding a mic and a camera, everyone wants to tell you theirs. We heard from some who simply remembered growing up watching him fight and being inspired. Others met him, knew him or saw him around town. Big or small, all the stories had something in common... impact.
Later in the day, I attended Ali’s memorial service. Again, the amount of people in attendance was astounding. But even more than how many were there, it’s who was there. Ali managed to bring together people of every race, gender, and religion on this day. Each of the people who took the stage and spoke about Ali was incredible, accomplished and uniquely different from the next. I laughed, cried and got chills more times than I can count. Even as he was no longer with us, it was a service full of moments of impact.
When you look up the meaning of the word impact, you’ll find this: the action of one object coming forcibly into contact with another.
Ali was familiar with impact. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. His career was filled with moments of impact as his glove connected with his opponent. Knockouts, taking hits, fights won. But even more than his legacy as a champion, his moments of impact outside of the ring are what will live on. This was evident in Louisville as we celebrated his life.
I wholeheartedly believe that it’s more than just a game. Football, basketball, baseball, tennis... in this case, boxing, are about so much more than what happens when the competition begins. Muhammad Ali was a beautiful example of this. The people I met, spoke with and heard from learned to work harder and were inspired to be better versions of themselves because of the way that Ali lived. He leaves a legacy - certainly for the boxer he was in the ring, but even more so for the man he was outside of it.
I came home to Cincinnati from Louisville thoroughly drained and emotionally exhausted. In true sports junkie fashion, I went straight to a party to watch the NBA playoffs. I literally couldn’t find the words to describe my day. Partially due to lack of sleep, but mostly because I truly can't believe I was lucky enough to be part of this moment in history. I'll forever remember being there as The Greatest was laid to rest.