The VIPP Report: Remembering Muhammad Ali on what would have been his 79th birthday

For the FIRST time, his life-long caregiver sits down with me for more than a hour telling me things so many people have no idea about the ‘Greatest of All Time’. This is just a small portion of my interview that I wanted to share.

 

Special Report by Sherlene Shanklin, WHAS11, ABC Louisville

Muhammad Ali and Sherlene Shanklin at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, KY.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — On Sunday, Muhammad Ali would have been 79. 

On June 3rd, 2016 Ali passed away and thousands lined the streets of Louisville to thank the champ who was not only a boxing champion but an activist and philanthropist respected by many across the world.

For the first time, in an exclusive interview, WHAS11 talked to the person who was his childhood friend, caregiver and sister-in-law. You saw her in many photos over the years. 

Now, Whas11’s Sherlene Shanklin tells you her story of the Champ you didn’t know.

Marilyn Williams says “Muhammad’s mother Odessa Clay and my mother Marguerite Williams were best friends.”

Their families were very close. As a child, she looked up to him as a big brother having no idea that years later she would call him her brother-in-law.

‘Lonnie Ali is my big sister,” Williams said.

Prior to working with family, she was a successful entrepreneur owning her own salon and then worked at the Ford Plant right here in Louisville.

So, when Lonnie was looking for someone to help with their business affairs and later assist Ali and with his Parkinson’s diagnosis, Marilyn was the perfect choice to be his caregiver while some even thought she was their bodyguard.

“I was his security because if you got close to Muhammad you were in trouble if you weren’t supposed to be there,” said Williams.

She talked to me about being a caregiver for Ali. “I knew I had to do the best I could do. I had to be the best. I had to be on it. I knew this man. I knew him ever since I was a child so I had to be on it.”

People always asked, could he speak after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s? Williams said, “Muhammad could smile, stars eyes would just sparkle and he talked a lot with his eyes, he talked with his voice, his hands. He definitely got his message across.”

Anytime ‘the Champ’ could get home he did and Marilyn shared this fond memory.

“Muhammad loved Louisville. You say Louisville if I was working and I said I was going on vacation. Where are you going? I said I’m going to Louisville. I wanna go.”

Williams showing me a piece of art that Ali created.

I also asked Williams could she tell me something about Ali people didn’t know. She sighs before answering–“Muhammad and Lonnie will say this too. He had a kind and loving heart. He saw nothing wrong with no one. He would be with kings and queens, presidents and then turn around and be with the poorest person on this earth or the sickest person on this earth. It didn’t matter to him. He loved all.”

To see everything happening in Louisville sometimes even along the street that bears his name and across the country how does that make you feel?

“Well I can’t actually speak for Muhammad because he can speak for himself but a few things he taught me and that was respect for all mankind. One thing I asked him, I was always asking him questions when I was younger growing up and he told me that there’s good and bad in every race and every religion. There’s good and bad,” Williams said.

The final question of the interview I had to ask what she misses the most about the GOAT?

With tears in her eyes, she responded by saying “His eyes, his kindness, his spirit, his spirit was so beautiful. To be around him he gave you energy. Even if there was a gray day outside he made the sunshine.”

I had to use the video one more time of Louisville’s own, the man who had no problem telling you “I’m still the greatest!!!”

Here’s the link to the story. -> https://www.whas11.com/article/news/local/muhammad-alis-caregiver-marilyn-williams-talks-greatest-of-all-time-goat-champ/417-b3ecdbeb-97b1-4062-9e01-ecf439074c89

Contact Sherlene Shanklin at sherlene@sherleneshanklin.com or follow me on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram.

Sherlene Shanklin is an EMMY Award winning journalist. Two-time Society of Professional Journalists, (SPJ) winner for sports writing and best use of social media. Multiple award winner for the Associated Press. Career spans nearly 30 years with an emphasis but not limited to news in Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

The VIPP Report: Muhammad Ali leaving no stone unturned

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Courtesy: Muhammad Ali Center

As the sun goes down and I begin to prepare for the processional, funeral and memorial service of Muhammad Ali there’s a lot of emotions going through my mind.  Visualizing the brief stop on Interstate 64 right by the Muhammad Ali Center, going down Broadway where he would run to train to seeing the red rose pedals as his hearse arrives at Cave Hill Cemetery.
I made many calls inquiring stories about the Louisville native but I also took a lot of calls and emails from those who wanted to share their stories about the “GREATEST”.  Many of you have guided me and led me from one interview after another.
Growing up in West Louisville right in the community where a legendary boxer worked and trained is significant in so many ways.  The predominantly African-American community is rich in history and tradition.  I grew up on Cecil Avenue.  Its been in the headlines more than I can count these days but that street when I was growing up generated a teacher that children loved, a prominent minister, a current president of a great non-profit organization and a senator.
Ali’s street was the same.  He had teachers, entrepreneurs, physicians, and hardworking people wanting better for their families and especially their children.  Many families had no problem working 12 hours a day to see their child get into college.  Did you know that Ali had honorary degrees from Kentucky State University and the University of Louisville.
Many of the things Ali did he did out of love and not publicity.  There’s people in communities across this world that have the same sense of responsibility.
Friday, June 10, 2016 will be a day for mourners but also a day of celebration because his legacy will live on in the thumbprint he leaves behind.  The reason why I said thumbprint instead of footprints.  The champ left his thumbprint so that future awards in his honor will have his seal of approval leaving no stone unturned.
You can follow me on Twitter at @Sherlenemediapr and Instagram @Sherlenemediapro.

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Muhammad Ali and Sherlene Shanklin at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, KY.

The VIPP Report: Remembering Louisville’s own Muhammad Ali

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Courtesy: Muhammad Ali Center

Special Report by Sherlene Shanklin, WHAS11 Television, ABC Louisville

On Friday, June3,  the “Greatest Of All Time” has passed away.  Muhammad Ali died surrounded by family and loved ones in Arizona.  The Louisville, Ky. native born Cassius Marcellus Clay to Cassius Sr. and Odessa Clay on January 17, 1942.  Ali was the father of nine children, seven daughters and two sons.

To date Ali remains the only three-time lineal World Heavyweight Champion.  He won the title in 1964, 1974, and 1978.

Growing up as a young girl in the same city, I would see Ali on various occasions but when I close my eyes I can vividly see him running down Broadway with his brother by his side.  Muhammad and Rahman would run and shadowbox. He would be showing off and many times slowing and/or stopping traffic.  As a young girl, I used to say “What in the world is he doing?”  Not knowing he was preparing himself to be one of the most influential people in the world.  I was familiar with boxing because it was extremely popular then. I even had Greg Page and one of his trainers Leroy Edmerson as members of my church.

In hindsight, we take those moments for granted.

Another special moment is when I ran into Ali on Fourth Street in 1986. He was sitting in the back of a box truck signing autographs in front of the Galleria which is known today as Fourth Street Live.  He gave me and my mom an “Introduction to Islam” book.  I remembered he laughed about our names because they were so similar (Shirley and Sherlene).  He turned to me and said ‘how you spell that’ in his larger than life voice.

I’ve been following the household name pretty much all of my adult life.  It was only an added bonus when I had the ability to cover events and stories involving the man who had no problem telling you “I’m so pretty,” “I’m the greatest,” and “The champ is here.”  He gave hope to those that saw no hope and a voice to many who couldn’t speak for themselves.

To Louisville who has a street named in his honor, he was hometown, but to the world he was the man who floated like a butterfly and could sting like a bee. He was “The Greatest”.

Muhammad Ali died at the age of 74 leaving his wife Lonnie Ali of almost 30 years and nine children and grandchildren.

If you have a story and/or photo you would like to share send it to me atsshanklin@whas11.com.  You can follow me on Twitter @Sherlenemediapr and Instagram @Sherlenemediapro for additional information and stories I gather in the coming days.

The VIPP Report is a blog created by Shanklin.  If you have a story idea send it to TheVIPPReport@vippcommunications.com.  You can follow us on Twitter @thevippreport @vippcomm @Sherlenemediapr.  

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Muhammad Ali and Sherlene Shanklin at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, KY.

Here’s the official link to the story.

http://www.whas11.com/mb/news/local/remembering-the-greatest-muhammad-ali/230363644

 

The VIPP Report: Muhammad Ali’s childhood home broken into before the first tour even takes place

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The surveillance camera at the childhood home of Muhammad Ali in Louisville, KY captures this person entering the home and stealing the air conditioner.

Special report from Sherlene Shanklin, WHAS11 Television ABC, Louisville

The childhood home of Louisville native Muhammad Ali is near completion but now its missing an air conditioner unit thanks to a theft.  The home on Grand Ave in West Louisville was renovated to resemble of the home in which the Clay family lived in prior to Ali’s successful boxing career and humanitarian efforts throughout the world.

The owners of the Muhammad Ali Home Museum tell me that they are offering a $500 reward and released some photos and video of the theft.

If you have any information you are asked to call 574-LMPD.

The home is scheduled for public tours in May 2016.

If you have a Muhammad Ali story and/or photos you would lie to share send it to sshanklin@whas11.com.  You can also follow me on Twitter @Sherlenemediapr and Instagram @Sherlenemediapro for real-time news.

Here’s the link to the WHAS11 news story:  http://www.whas11.com/news/local/someone-breaks-in-the-childhood-home-of-muhammad-ali/123330505
If you have a story idea send it to TheVIPPReport@vippcommunications.com.  You can follow us on Twitter @thevippreport @vippcomm.  

Ali's childhoodhome

This is the childhood home of Muhammad Ali in Louisville, KY in its original state prior to the major renovation. Courtesy: Sherlene Shanklin