Ali: The Spirit of a Legend

06/06/2016 11:24 am ET Updated Jun 06, 2017

I remember when I first learned that one of Muhammad Ali's nicknames was the Louisville Lip. Being from Cincinnati, just 100 miles from Louisville, Muhammad Ali was the first person to get me to realize that a little boy from seemingly nowhere could aspire to greatness.

We millennials threaten to leave the country if Trump is elected -- a move I believe to be largely inspired by Muhammad Ali's refusal to go to war for a cause he didn't believe in. We are known for passion and understanding the "why" -- a mindset on a path paved by that butterfly floating, bee stinging, pretty, bad man named Ali.

I remember watching the Opening Ceremonies of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. I was just seven years old but a lot of foundations were laid for me at that time. You see, I was just becoming old enough to understand perspective. I watched this old, fragile man shiver his way to the torch and in that moment realized the importance of the Olympics. Anything that could inspire a man in his condition to endure the obvious physical strain to be a symbol of greatness -- American greatness, Black American greatness -- had to be bigger than just lighting a torch. Muhammad Ali is responsible for my love of the Olympics.

If Ali taught us anything, it was that the spirit of a champion is far more powerful than even his body. As we mourn his passing, we have to remember that because even though he's no longer here in the flesh, his spirit will never die. 🙏👊🙌