Muhammad Ali, Young & Old
Life is often unfair...and cruel to boot.
In the case of Muhammad Ali, the later part of his life has been a very cruel irony. This incredibly graceful, supremely agile heavyweight who revolutionized boxing, had all his prodigious physical gifts, including his legendary gift of gab taken from him by Parkinson's disease and the effects of years of withering punishments inside the ring.
Today, there is an almost universal lament over Ali's passing as a modern day sports icon. Indeed, Muhammad Ali was perhaps the first of the "Showtime" athletes. He was an even better showman (promoter) than he was an athlete...and he was a prodigious athlete!
Throughout his early life, Ali courted controversy as much as he did publicity, often intertwining the two.
But it's also been all too clear that Muhammad Ali had been suffering for decades from a very debilitating condition, a condition that seemed to only grow more severe with each passing year.
Ali deserves to be missed and lauded for all he did, but his passing should be seen as a relief from the suffering brought about by the longest and cruelest fight of his life.
He belongs to history now, with the likes of Babe Ruth, Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, Mickey Mantle and Wilt Chamberlain...all giants who transcended their sports and impacted their generations by the sheer force of their wills.