LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - State and local luminaries weighed in on the death of a Louisville and global icon early Saturday:
"Elaine and I were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Muhammad Ali, one of the preeminent and most beloved athletes of the 20th century. Inside the ring, he was graceful on his feet and packed a powerful punch. Outside the ring, he thrilled us with his exuberance for life. He was more than just a boxer. He was The Greatest. His life story is an American story, and it's a story that began in Louisville, Kentucky. Ali grew up in Louisville. He fought his first professional fight there. And Louisville is now the site of the Muhammad Ali Center, which will continue his legacy and preserve his life story for all to experience. Our thoughts are with the Ali family and the dedicated staff at the Ali Center in this time of grief."
- U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
"All of Louisville celebrates the life of our Champion," said UofL Men's Basketball Coach Rick Pitino. "He shined brightest in the ring and preached peace outside of it. He loved babies, people and cherished his friends. We will miss you Champ. Rest in Peace."
- UofL basketball coach Rick Pitino
"All of us in the Cardinal Athletics family are deeply, deeply saddened with the passing of an absolute worldwide legend in Muhammad," said Tom Jurich, UofL Vice President and Director of Athletics. "While he was undoubtedly one of the greatest athletes in history, the Champ made a difference in the lives of so many around the world. His generosity with his time for anything we asked of him -- or things he offered to do without us asking -- was incredible, as was the financial commitment he and Lonnie made to our baseball program at UofL. It was a true honor for me to know him and he will be greatly missed. Our deepest sympathies and prayers go out to Lonnie and the entire family."
- UofL Athletic Director Tom Jurich
"The values of hard work, conviction and compassion that Muhammad Ali developed while growing up in Louisville helped him become a global icon. As a boxer, he became The Greatest, though his most lasting victories happened outside the ring. Muhammad leveraged his fame as a platform to promote peace, justice and humanitarian efforts around the world, while always keeping strong ties to his hometown. Today, Muhammad Ali's fellow Louisvillians join the billions whose lives he touched worldwide in mourning his passing, celebrating his legacy, and committing to continue his fight to spread love and hope.
"To honor Muhammad's life and work, flags City Hall and Metro Hall and all city government buildings will be lowered to half-staff at 10 a.m. tomorrow and will remain at half-staff until he has been laid to rest. Thank you, Muhammad, for all you've given your city, your country and the world."
- Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer
"Our city, our Commonwealth, our nation and the world has lost "The Greatest". Not only was Muhammad Ali a legend in the world of sports, and considered by many to be the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time, he changed the world with what he did outside the ring. He was a champion for civil rights, religious freedom, and solving conflicts through peace and understanding. A man of humble beginnings right here in Louisville, who inspired young people to be the best they could be in whatever field they chose to pursue. To Lonnie and all the members of the Ali family, we on the Metro Council send our thoughts and prayers in this time of grief. Our city is honored to be known as the hometown of Muhammad Ali. May we follow his example as we work together for a better world for all."
- Louisville Metro Council President Yates
"The word champion has never fit a man better. Muhammad Ali was a champion for peace, a champion for justice, and a champion for equality. He was a man who gained fame in a violent game, but immortality as a gentle and caring soul. In the ring, there was no one better, but his contributions to humanity managed to eclipse his boxing prowess.
"I remember watching every one of his championship fights. I remember waiting for him at Standiford Field when he returned home after beating Liston, thinking to myself that I had never seen a more perfect human being. And I remember the loud-mouthed speedster by the name of Cassius Marcellus Clay, whose fights in and out of the ring would one day make him Muhammad Ali—a selfless giant who put principles over everything and never forgot the city he called home.
"I am just one of the many in Louisville whose heart aches for the loss of my friend, and yet, every corner of our community is better for his impact. At a time when fame so often comes with questionable character, Muhammad Ali is an ever present reminder that the most famous person in the world can be a real life hero. He really was the greatest."
- Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3)
"On the morning of June 22, 1972 I got to hang out for a little while with the Greatest of All Time. Muhammad Ali was everything the world had come to know and love – funny, charming and one hell of an athlete. That morning I was just a star struck kid from Searchlight. I will never forget being at Caesars Palace, talking to the Greatest and watching in awe as he trained.
"I was deeply saddened to learn today of Muhammad Ali's passing. The world has lost a monumental, unforgettable figure. I offer my condolences to his family and join the millions around the world in mourning his passing.
"Ali was a legend and a fighter in every sense of the word. He fought and won inside the ring and fought for equality and justice outside the ring. Ali taught us all about the value of hard work, tenacity and never giving up. He was an inspiration whose tireless work ethic, unmatched skills and supreme self-confidence made him the Greatest of All Time. And he showed us that even when you get knocked down, you can always get back up.
"There has never been anyone like Muhammad Ali and there never will be again. He leaves behind an indelible legacy that will continue to serve as an inspiration for generations to come."
- Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid
"He was a man who touched many lives by his determination, athletic talent and belief in himself and in the good that can be found in many places of the world. The journey he began as a 12 year old who was interested in boxing has led to his being not only an iconic figure in the world of sports but an ambassador for peace and equal justice throughout the world. May we all see how we can change the world by believing in ourselves, our community and seeing the potential in the people we have not yet touched. My thoughts and prayers are with Lonnie and the family at this time of grief."
- Louisville Metro Councilman David James
"I am saddened to hear the news of his passing. I first met him as a classmate in Central High School. He and his brother became lifelong friends from that moment on. Even as he became well known around the world, he would always remember those high school days we shared when he came home to Louisville and our paths crossed over the years. His work and his example are to be admired at a time when we need to show young people what you can achieve when you believe in yourself and spread a message of peace throughout the world. My thoughts and prayers are with the family."
- Louisville Metro Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, District 2
"Like many I remember Muhammad Ali as a classmate at Central High School and as I have watched him through these years I cannot help but remember how each of us can make a difference. Many of us at the time saw the need to make a difference in civil rights locally standing up for what is right and being an example that we all must stand for equality. He became the best professional heavyweight champion that will ever be and showed the world that it was time to stand for civil rights and equality Muhammad Ali was a legend who had unshakable integrity when it came to something that he believed in. I am proud to have known him and his family. We will not see another like him in our life time. My thoughts and prayers to the family, we in Louisville have lost our own true champion."
- Louisville Metro Councilwoman Mary C. Woolridge, District 3
"My family and I send our condolences to the Ali family. What a loss to all of America, and the city of Louisville as we mourn the passing of the greatest of all time, Muhammad Ali. The Champ was a native of District 1, and his legacy will forever live on in the lives of the little boys and girls who grow up in our community, who push themselves and know that they too, can be great. His life and journey let us all know that anything, particularly greatness, is possible with hard work, dedication, and faith. He was a giant for human and civil rights and a hero to all Americans, but particularly for the disenfranchised. Our native son, you will never be forgotten, and your legacy will live on throughout the ages."
- Louisville Metro Councilwoman Jessica Green, District 1
"Carolyn and I are saddened by the news of Muhammad Ali 's passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with Lonnie, the rest of the family and the countless number of friends who mourn his passing.
Known as "the Greatest of All Time", Ali through his example, first in the ring and later through his humanitarian work around the world, showed everyone that we all have our own form of greatness inside of us. Furthermore, he showed us that we all have a debt of service to pay to one another in order to make our world a better place.
When we talk about Louisville being known as "Possibility City" such a statement is only capable of being made because it was here in our city that one of its sons, who had his bike stolen as a boy, could become the three-time heavyweight boxing champion of the world to later become a statesmen who helped transform the world.
Muhammad Ali 's life was truly a gift to the world and his legacy will be one that will continue to endure for generations."
- Louisville Metro Councilman David Tandy
"On behalf everyone associated with the Muhammad Ali Center and everyone in the Louisville community who loved Muhammad, we want to express our deepest sympathies to his wife, Lonnie, and Muhammad's entire family.
"His wife, Lonnie once said, that Muhammad belongs to the world. He was the People's Champion, one of the most recognized and beloved individuals on the face of the earth, co-founder of the Muhammad Ali Center, and an inspiration to all. He will be remembered for his love for all people, his athleticism, humanitarian deeds, social justice, and perhaps mostly… his courage in and outside of the ring.
"The Muhammad Ali Center was created to help preserve and share the life and legacy of Muhammad Ali. If you would like to express your condolences, your personal stories, or to help celebrate Muhammad's life, please come to the Ali Center today."
- Donald Lassere, President and CEO, Muhammad Ali Center
"The Kentucky Boxing and Wrestling Commission extends its deepest sympathy to the family of Muhammad Ali. Ali was more than just the three-time heavyweight champion: he was the Greatest. We are so proud to call him a native son and will work hard to advance the sport he loved. Rest in peace, Champ."
- Kentucky Boxing and Wrestling Commission
"It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Muhammad Ali. Ali was a proud graduate of Central High School and in his younger years, he would often stop by our schools to eat lunch with students, shadow box, perform magic tricks and encourage our students to follow a path to greatness. Ali and JCPS share a vision of excellence and equity, and we will continue to be inspired by his example."
- JCPS Superintendent and Ali Center Board member Dr. Donna Hargens.
More Muhammad Ali Coverage
+ Family spokesman: Ali died with 'love all around him'
+ VIDEO: Ali shares religious, political, racial insights in 1974 interview
+ Louisville friends spent The Greatest's final hours praying, hoping
+ Muhammad Ali dies at 74
+ SLIDESHOW: In the ring with The Greatest
+ SLIDESHOW: Through the years: From Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali
+ WAVE 3's John Ramsey recalls lifelong friendship with Ali
+ 27 great Muhammad Ali quotes
+ Muhammad Ali will be buried in Louisville
+ Ali's friends tell how he took on the neighborhood bully
+ Special Muhammad Ali Section