While I’ve done most of my work, growing, and root settin’ on the West Coast, I was born and raised in Louisville, Ky. The City is in my bones. I wake up and know the Kentucky Derby is starting, like a Force premonition. Except with horses and not presences I haven’t felt in years.
Muhammad Ali belonged to himself and he belonged to the world; but he also belonged to Louisville, the City he loved. I’d try to write a farewell from that perspective, but I left. I’d feel like a fraud.
Louisville comedian Sean Smith said goodbye to the man who did everything and could have gone anywhere, but stayed:
Imagine growing up in a city where Apollo Creed is Rocky…
When people watch the first Rocky movies they see Apollo Creed, a brash talking, rhyming, fight selling, Super champ face off against the underdog of underdogs Rocky Balboa. Apollo Creed is clearly modeled after Muhammad Ali…and in my city…Apollo Creed WAS Rocky.
I don’t really know how to feel about this. I’m real mixed up. I’m sad because I looked up to him but…he really was struggling the last 5 years so I’m glad he’s not suffering anymore.
Louisville is rich with stories about him. So many people impacted by him. So many neighborhood kids put through college by him FOR YEARS! And it all started in Louisville. A city with extremely low self esteem…
We needed him then and we still do. People always leave to make it big and never come back. Most people don’t know that Ali owns a home on old Henry road and came back home frequently. He loved this City and wore it on his chest like a superman S. And we loved him.
I loved the stories. My parents went to Central with him so they remember Cassius. I once heard a story from a man who was a kid when Ali pulled up to, what is now, the West End school. Ali parked his Cadillac and honked his horn sending the entire school (that was still in session) into hysterics. All of the kids left class and went outside to play with Ali. School was out at noon that day because the champ was here.
I dream of being a Louisville champion. Always have. I just want to make the city proud like he did. If it actually happens or not doesn’t really matter. A noble aim is worth the marksmen. But that dream wldnt have even been possible without Ali. And in my city…Apollo Creed WAS Rocky. The Underdog made Champion.
Good Fight Champ. I’ll continue to wear your name in hopes that your greatness seeps through to me on stage or wherever I go.
Goodbye, champ. No matter where it’s sons and daughters are in the world today, Louisville will never forget. And Louisville has a lot to live up to.