Famous Friday


Ali 1

Ali 2


When my mom was my age she had the incredible opportunity to work for the great Muhammad Ali as his boxing career winded down. Muhammad rose to fame as the result of the incredible boxing skills that earned him the nickname “the Greatest”.  He was three time heavyweight champion of the world even though he had to sit out what should have been his athletic prime. But being an incredibly gifted athlete only takes a man so far. Muhammad had many other unique gifts that contributed to him becoming the most famous man on the planet and one of the most loved people to ever live. Muhammad had the gift of gab that kept people entertained and earned him a second nickname, “the Louisville Lip”.  He also had deep conviction and courage that compelled him to stand up and speak out in favor of civil rights and against war. On of the most meaningful contributions he made to society was the impact he had on the self esteem of African Americans at a time where some in the US still considered them to be second class citizens. Muhammad was proud of being black and made others proud too.


When you are as famous as Muhammad Ali, the world knows a lot about you, but not many people know that the Champ was actually multiracial. His grandfather, Abe Grady, was a white Irishman from Ennis, Ireland and emigrated to the United States in the 1860s where he made his home in Kentucky and married an African-American woman who had been freed from a life of slavery. Grady and his wife had a daughter named Odessa Lee. Odessa married Cassius Clay Sr and on January 17, 1942, Cassius junior was born. He was named after his father and a famous Kentucky abolitionist but later changed his name to Muhammad Ali when he converted to the Islam faith.


Muhammad visited Ireland a few times later in life and the people of Ennis made him the first freeman of the town in its 150,000 year existence and consider him their favorite son. in 2009 he was given the Freedom of Ennis. A monument marking the spot where Muhammad’s great grandfather lived was also unveiled by Ali during his 2009 visit.


The Greatest, Muhammad Ali passed away at a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona at 74 after a long and difficult battle with Parkinson’s disease. He will never be forgotten.


Photo credit: Irishcentral.com

Photo credit: my mom and Muhammad from her personal collection



lailaMuhammad Ali was an amazing man. A world champion fighter, a civil rights activist, and a hero to many people. When he passed away this summer it was a great loss to the world. My mom worked for Muhammad for a number of years and was lucky to consider him a special friend. Below you can see pictures of some of the fun times they shared. But as much as my mom and people around the world will miss The Greatest, there are, of course, few people who will miss him as much as his children. Today’s Famous Friday is Laila Ali, Muhammad’s 8th, and probably most well-known, child.
Like her father, Laila was a boxer. Boxing among women was pretty new when she began the career, which earned her multiple middleweight and light heavyweight championships and ended without a single defeat! Laila graduated from Santa Monica College with a business degree. She is also a TV personality and an author of Reach! Finding Strength, Spirit, and Personal Power, a book written to motivate and inspire young people. Laila married Johnny McClain, who became her business manager but divorced after 5 years. In 2007, she married Curtis Conway who played for the Bears, Chargers, Jets and 49ers. Together they have a son and a daughter.

Laila was born in 1977, to Ali and his then wife, Veronica Porsche-Ali who is multiracial (Louisiana Creole). The picture above of Laila wearing a “Beautifully Blended” tshirt was posted by Laila recently on her Instagram account.  It received a ton of comments about her shirt and whether or not she is multiracial. Here are a couple of them:

You are true beauty, true inspiration. Love your t-shirt! I’m tri-racial 💕💜😊

I have this same shirt. It means whatever you are blended with created something beautiful. Does not mean you have to be “mixed” but that we live in a MixedNation 💜💙💚💛

-Karson Baldwin, Project RACE Kids President.