Fans of The Greatest have been paying their respects all around Louisville.
Many left balloons and pictures Saturday outside of Muhammad Ali’s childhood home on Grand Avenue in west Louisville.
The home opened last month as a museum to the public. Dozens of fans stopped by to take the tour, saying they wanted to find a way to be a part of his legacy.
Few people on the block knew Ali better than the couple who live across the street.
“He was just another person and he loved everybody,” Lawrence Montgomery said.
Montgomery can still remember when Cassius Clay lived on Grand Avenue.
“He used to babysit for me. I had three children, and him and his brother would babysit,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery said the boy who would grow up to be Muhammad Ali always loved boxing.
In fact, when Ali got tired of punching an old tree in the front yard, he’d ask his neighbor to lend a hand.
“He’d always ask me to hold up my hands so he could shadow box in my hand. I said ‘Man you aren’t going to hurt my hands?’ ‘No way!’” laughed Montgomery.
Memories like that are why Montgomery knew Ali was destined for greatness.
It was after midnight, just minutes after the public learned of the death of Muhammad Ali, that people began arriving to the Ali Center in downtown Louisville.
By daybreak, the makeshift memorial had grown to include signs and flowers.
Among the items left by mourners- boxing gloves, a picture drawn by a child, and a card – never to be opened – but addressed to ‘The Greatest.’
Deana Johnson held back tears as she described the impact Ali has had on her life.
“Growing up close to Village West, I went to coach Taylor as a small child. Muhammad ail would just stop in, unannounced, no cameras, just him and us. He would hug us and make us feel like we were the greatest. That has stayed with me all the way as an adult,” Johnson said.
Fans have piled flowers and balloons outside the center to show their love and support the man often called the greatest. They also lined up to sign a condolence book inside.
Myrna Brame said it is what Ali did outside of the ring that’s made a lasting impression on her life.
“Most people think of Muhammad Ali as it relates to sports, but I think his greatest tribute to Muhammad Ali is the fact that he was a humanitarian. His true legacy is what he has done for people to embrace humanity,” Brame said.
The Muhammad Ali Center was open Saturday until 5 p.m.
It will reopen Sunday at 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
A reflection ceremony for Ali will be held Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Louisville Islamic Center on River Road.
Anyone who would like to come and pay their respects to Ali are welcome to gather.
Also, a neighborhood gathering, held by Christopher 2X and Jerald Muhammad, will be held Monday at 6 p.m. in the 3300 block of Grand Avenue.
The purpose of the gathering will be to reflect on Ali’s impact on the community.
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