Muhammad Ali remembered through fan interactions

Athletes and sports teams continue to express the impact boxing legend Muhammad Ali had on their lives. But Ali's influence was not limited to the world of sports. His death at the age of 74 has also prompted fans to share personal stories of interactions with him.

"My grandma was able to meet Ali when she lived in Vegas. She was going in for a kiss on the cheek. RIP Champ!" -Austin Van Horn

"One of the greatest days of my entire life!! I got to air box with the champ!! He picked me out of a crowd. One of my all time hero's Muhammad Ali. He is a true American hero and always stood up for what he believed in at a time when it was not accepted in our country. Rest well champ there will never be another one like you." -Tom Napoli

"My dad Bruce Abbott sat next to him in first class on a plane years ago. He wrote this on a piece of scrap paper and has been hanging in his "Hall of Flame" ever since. I always stopped to read it when I walked by. A man who changed the world!" -Lindsay Abbott

"I got to meet the champ in 1994 at Mt. Ida College, I was a freshman. He was extremely nice. After this picture, I looked back and he waved me back for another picture. He then took off my hat, put my fists up to box, a favorite pic of mine, two years later his daughter Hana, went to school there, during thanksgiving break she got this picture autographed for me. I will miss the champ, an ambassador of peace for the whole world." -Stuart Wilkie

"I grew up in Berrien Springs and we used to see him all the time. He did magic tricks for us and was all over our small town. My two brothers and I all have pics with him at different stages of his life." -David Tobias

"My brother mike and his friends at our town's county fair." -David Tobias

"My husband, my mother and I attended the Taos Pow Wow in 1999. Near the end of the grand entry, the announcer broke in to thank their good friend, Muhammad Ali, the man considered the most recognized person in the world, now standing only feet away. The Taos elders had him walk into the circle and presented him with many beautiful blankets and several silver and turquoise jewelry items. This is such an honor because of not only the time and labor involved making these items, but even more the fact that the Hopi Indians are among the poorest people in the United States. Each blanket and necklace represents much of their yearly income and to give away these gifts means that much less to live on. After receiving the dancing resumed and Ali went back into the booth and watched for perhaps another half hour. My husband, never one to sit for long, got up and walked to the area behind where we were sitting and sat down on a big electrical type box next to the dirt road. As he sat, he watched a woman pushing a teenage boy in a wheelchair. She had been trying to push him over to the opening so he could get Ali's autograph. However, the ruts in the field made it impossible for her to get there before Ali was finished, so she just stopped right next to my husband. A few minutes later, Ali and his wife headed down the dirt road and were going to drive right past them. He saw Ali put up his hand motioning his wife to stop the car. One of his assistants got out from the back and helped him out of the car. Ali walked right over to Nick and the woman and the young man. He leaned down and hugged the boy for some time and whispered something to him. He then motioned for his wife to come. She walked over and handed Ali a pen and he took a currency bill out of his pocket, signed it, put it in the boy's hand and hugged him again. He never said a word out loud to any of them. He just continued to hug the boy and then turned and got back into the car and left. My husband watched this display of humanity and humility, with tears streaming down his face. Here on a reservation, in a sacred setting, two completely different lifestyles came together. One of poverty, the Hopi's giving gifts to one of the wealthiest men in the world and one of wealth and fame, Ali giving compassion to a broken body destined to a life in a wheelchair. There is a lesson here for all of us. Thank you Muhammad Ali, you truly were The Greatest!" -Alicia Hanauska

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