There’s a wonderful post on the Ravens website, reflecting on Muhammad Ali’s visit to their practice facility before their 2012 Super Bowl season.
Ali was in Baltimore at the time, fundraising for his charity, and made an impromptu visit to Owings Mills. Memories from Ali’s visit stuck with players throughout that season. Even now, coach John Harbaugh will occasionally use an Ali quote or reference when making a point with the team.
One of my greatest regrets as a sportswriter is never having the opportunity to interview Ali. However, I met Ali one time as a kid. I was walking past a barber shop in West Philadelphia with a friend of mine, and we saw Ali through the window, talking trash with the customers. We were almost too scared to walk inside, but we did. Sensing that we were petrified, Ali walked over to us, patted us on the head, and talked to us briefly. I was in a trance, so I honestly can’t remember what he said. But I could hardly wait to get home, to tell my family I had met the great Ali.
Many Ravens took to social media Saturday, paying tribute to Ali after learning of his death, including running back Justin Forsett, left tackle Eugene Monroe, wide receiver Keenan Reynolds, tight end Benjamin Watson, and linebacker Zach Orr.
I understand their sentiments. As I reflect on his extraordinary life, I am still in awe of Ali, just like I was when I met him as a kid.
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