The sun was blazing and you could see steam rising from the asphalt in the downtown streets of Washington DC. Hundreds of passer-byes engrossed in their own activities, too consumed to notice what was going on around them.
Many hustling to catch their next train, others in random conversations with colleagues, vendor stands on every corner with crowds swarming. For me, this was my lunch hour. The time for me to walk around and just watch and observe the masses. There was so much to ingest when suddenly I look up and see this overwhelming being of energy before me. It was undoubtedly, Mr. Ali. He was walking about the city alone with no escort, no bodyguard and no media. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Was I dreaming? The champ looks so real, so young and in shape just like all the pictures and movies. (Yes, I was having a real kiddie moment) No, it wasn’t a dream at all, it was truly him. So, I nervously approach him and say, “Hello, Mr. Ali, nice to meet you”. He towers over me with a slight hunch and says “This ain’t Embassy”. (Uh, I think) Assuming he was talking about the Embassy Suites, gave him two alternative directions. To be honest, it didn’t really seem like he was retaining the info, so I hurriedly grab my pen and little pink note pad to ask for an autograph before he ventured off.
Mr. Ali graciously signs with a little hand-quivering going on. In my head, I remember the words “Wow, the Greatest of All Times”. It was like floating like a butterfly in sheer amazement to be in this moment. His demeanor was that of a humble giant and when he spoke, he mumbled every expression. His voice wasn’t as prideful as it was in his youth. I stare down at the autograph like it was a shiny new diamond bracelet or something.
That notepad is long gone now, but the memory will last a lifetime. It was truly a #sparklemoment. I was so excited to get back to the office boasting to all of my co-workers. It was something to brag about then and it’s still as precious for me to share now.
Like all mankind, Muhammad Ali had his downfalls, but his activism and influence is widespread. He is the G.O.A.T. Strength in and out of the ring.
During his later years, Mr. Ali did so much for the research and studies of Parkinson’s Disease. Let’s hope that his legacy never goes in vain. Rest in Paradise