The VIPP Report: Remembering Muhammad Ali, the GOAT five years later

I’ve covered Muhammad Ali for many years since I’m from his hometown of Louisville, KY. Even receiving an EMMY nomination. When i received that call five years ago preparing me for what was about to happen I will never forget. Then one day later, the champ passes away. Only a handful of people outside the family received that call. I will forever be grateful that the Ali family trusted me as a journalist, a person who really cared and someone that grew up in the same Black neighborhood he grew up in.

Sherlene Shanklin

By Sherlene Shanklin, WHAS11 ABC Louisville

Five years ago today, boxing legend and Louisville native Muhammad Ali passed. In today’s Your Story, we remember his legacy. I talk to Marilyn Williams.  Ali’s caregiver and sister-in-law who shared some fond and funny moments about the champ. 

Williams says “When he would have visitors over to the house he would play possium.  He would sit with his eyes closed. He knew if they were leaving he would wake up so they could take pictures and autographs and they were excited. Muhammad knew…everybody knows he was Muhammad Ali is. He’s known around the world and he wanted to know who you are and I thought that was really neat about him.”

Williams got to witness so many things up close that some people had no idea.  She remembers one doctor who liked to make house calls to see Muhammad because they both shared a common interest. She says  “He would come every other Sunday. Muhammad and I were always watching westerns.  And Muhammad always thought he was a Black cowboy.  With Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson and Kris Krostophenson. Those were actually his friends.”

Williams also tells me that legendary musician Sam Cooke and Ali were best friends. I found tons of footage and photos of the two talking about things they were working on even a singing project. 

When Marilyn was a teen Muhammad gave her some advice.  That she still cherishes. “I got a problem. He said what’s your problem.  So, I told him. He said that’s not a problem.  And I said its not? To me it is..but he would tell me he said a problem is when you can’t solve it.  When you can solve it, it’s not a problem.”

Another fond memory. Marilyn and Muhammad would take rides all over Louisville.  She reflects on the reaction when people would recognize him. “We would get in the car we would go in the Westend to Shively the Eastend and we were all over riding and every now and then somebody would notice him and say Muhammad Ali, Muhammad Ali. He would wave and give them that bite like he was going to fight.  He would blow them kisses.”

As the family continued to learn about his Parkinson’s diagnosis.  They took it one day at a time. Williams says  “The only thing I could tell Lonnie at that time was Lonnie were gonna push him as far as we can and eventually he’s going to come back. But if we get him so far he will live long and that exactly what happened”

Williams did get a chance to say goodbye to Ali and she shares a little of what she said to him. She tells me “The last word I said to Muhammad was that he was going to go to heaven. I whispered in his ear and I was going to meet him and they would do this again.”

And still today….

Williams says “His legacy lives on.”

If you have a story about Muhammad Ali you would like to share send it to sshanklin@whas11.com

►Contact Your Story’s Sherlene Shanklin at sshanklin@whas11.com or follow her on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram. 

To see my story click the link-> https://www.whas11.com/article/news/local/5-years-after-muhammad-ali-death/417-7d8da576-5081-46bd-be9e-d50f737ac8c8

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.  

SherleneShanklnMuhammadAli

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