Editor's note: There are dozens of newspapers across the state of Kentucky. Each Tuesday, this space will be dedicated to what one of those papers thinks about the issues facing their communities and this state.
We called him the Louisville Lip. And indeed, Muhammad Ali had a lot to say about himself. But more importantly, he spoke to causes greater than himself. He was the most mesmerizing athlete on the planet, the greatest, the champion of the world. He was Louisville's Ali.
But it was his life outside the ring that truly made him the Greatest of All Time.
"When you saw me in the boxing ring fighting, it wasn't just so I could beat my opponent. My fighting had a purpose. I had to be successful in order to get people to listen to the things I had to say."
The things Ali had to say broke down barriers, brought us together and inspired us. On the third anniversary of when we lost him, it's why we celebrate him.
He helped build our CONFIDENCE.
"I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was."
"I've never let anyone talk me into not believing in myself."
"I am America. I am the part you won't recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me."
"Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing."
He held to his CONVICTIONS.
"Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn't matter which color does the hating. It's just plain wrong."
"Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?"
He taught us DEDICATION.
"No one starts out on top. You have to work your way up. Some mountains are higher than others, some roads steeper than the next. There are hardships and setbacks, but you can't let them stop you. Even on the steepest road, you must not turn back. You must keep going up. In order to reach the top of the mountain, you have to climb every rock."
"Champions aren't made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them -- a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill, and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill."
He commanded RESPECT and gave it.
"I am an ordinary man who worked hard to develop the talent I was given. I believed in myself, and I believe in the goodness of others."
"Throughout my life, I never sought retribution against those who hurt me because I believe in forgiveness. I have practiced forgiving, just as I want to be forgiven. Only God knows what's in a person's heart, his true intentions. He sees and hears all things."
He focused on GIVING.
"Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth."
"I try not to speak about all the charities and people I help, because I believe we can only be truly generous when we expect nothing in return."
He embodied SPIRITUALITY.
"My wealth is in my knowledge of self, love, and spirituality."
"God gave me Parkinson's syndrome to show me I'm not 'The Greatest' -- He is. God gave me this illness to remind me that I'm not Number One; He is."
"I'd like for them to say he took a few cups of love, he took one tablespoon of patience, teaspoon of generosity, one pint of kindness. He took one quart of laughter, one pinch of concern, and then, he mix willingness with happiness, he added lots of faith, and he stirred it up well, then he spreads it over his span of a lifetime, and he served it to each and every deserving person he met."
In life and in death, Ali spoke to us.
Nothing could silence his booming voice.
His words live on, inspiring us to be the greatest.
To be Ali.
-- Courier Journal