LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Former President Jimmy Carter and singer Christina Aguilera received awards Thursday in Louisville in the name of Muhammad Ali, who sat in the front row to watch.
The Muhammad Ali Center held its first-ever humanitarian awards at the Galt House downtown. The lifetime achievement award for human rights work went to Carter, whose son Chip accepted on his behalf.
The former president wanted to attend but was at home, Chip Carter said.
"When my father was president (Ali) was probably the most famous person in the world," he said. "Certainly, he was the most famous American Muslim in the world, and that helped with the things Dad was trying to do in the Arab world. So we used him quite extensively and he did quite well for us."
Aguilera was there in person and received an award for her hunger relief efforts. The Ali Center also gave awards to people under the age of 30 who've already done work ranging from curbing poverty in Africa to providing free sports clinics to children in the U.S. with special needs.
It was part of a three-day series of events that includes two documentaries honoring more controversial parts of Ali's life.
HBO premiered "Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight" at the Ali Center on Wednesday. The film profiles his legal battle after refusing to be drafted into the military during the Vietnam War.
It airs at 8 p.m. Saturday on HBO.
"My brother's such a wonderful person," said Rahman Ali at the awards event. "It's nice that people are doing this for Muhammad, it's wonderful. It shows love and respect for Muhammad –and we appreciate that."
Former Kentucky Gov. John Brown, who helped with the creation of the Ali Center, also attended the event.
"The whole concept, the vision, is to build something that the whole world can continue to be inspired by," Brown said. "No other message gets to people like Muhammad Ali's message."
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