Louisvillians show up early to pay tribute to 'The Greatest'

Paying tribute to the "Greatest of All Time"
Published: Jun. 4, 2016 at 4:38 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 4, 2016 at 7:12 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - As word spread about the death of Louisville's very own hero and three-time heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali at the age of 74, many people all throughout the city showed up before the crack of dawn outside the building that bears his name to pay tribute to the late humanitarian.

>> Share your condolences on Facebook

Some brought posters and flowers for the makeshift memorial that started next to the fountain near the Muhammad Ali Center. All evidence of the many lives Ali touched across the globe.

"At first I didn't believe it, this can't be happening," said Deborah Thompson, who was in bed when she first heard the news.

Disbelief and a feeling of loss are what brought Thompson and many others to the Muhammad Ali Center. Some made the visit before the sun came up to say thank you.

More Muhammad Ali Coverage
+ Muhammad Ali dies at 74
+ Family spokesman: Ali died with 'love all around him'
+ Muhammad Ali will be buried in Louisville
+ Billy Reed: Legendary sportswriter reflects on friendship with legendary Ali
+ VIDEO: 'He saved me,' once-troubled Louisville man says of Ali
+ VIDEO: Ali shares religious, political, racial insights in 1974 interview
+ VIDEO: Muhammad Ali -- The Greatest Is Gone
SLIDESHOW: In the ring with The Greatest
SLIDESHOW: Through the years: From Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali
27 great Muhammad Ali quotes
+ 2015 VIDEO: Epic Super Bowl ad features voice of young, brash Ali
+ WAVE 3's John Ramsey recalls lifelong friendship with Ali
+ Louisville friends spent The Greatest's final hours praying, hoping
Ali's friends tell how he took on the neighborhood bully
+ Politicians offer condolences following Ali's death
Special Muhammad Ali Section

"He meant to me what he stood up to believe in," Thompson said. "He just didn't sit down. He believed in it, he did it, and he made it happen and that's why he is the greatest of all time."

For others, like Jimmy Isaac, it was a time to remember a personal moment. Isaac recalled the time his father was in the same hospital as Ali's mother. In the hallway of that hospital, a devastated Isaac met the fighter for the first time.

"Muhammad Ali came out of nowhere in the hallway and touched my head and came up to me and said everything's  going to be okay," Isaac said.
 
That single moment, never slipped his mind.
 
"I remember that strength and that touch he gave me at 18 years old," Isaac added.
 
The death of Ali also served as a learning moment for those who were born not too many years ago. Kahari Adams, 7, may not have had any personal moments with the champ, but he came with his mother to the fountain to leave flowers and a poster that said "Rest in Power." Little Kahari also brought boxing gloves and posed for a picture next to the memorial.
 
"I got them at the dollar store," Kahari said.

When asked why she decided to bring little Kahari along, Tiffany Adams said she wanted it to be an inspirational lesson for her son.
 
"So that he knows growing up that he can achieve anything he wants to achieve, you know, if he feels strongly about anything, take a stand and stand firm like Ali," Adams said.
 
"I wanna be tough like him," Kahari added, holding up his boxing gloves.
 
As flags in Louisville fly at half-staff the hope is that Muhammad Ali's flame of legacy continues to burn in the hearts of many.
 
Copyright 2016 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.