Since the passing of Muhammad Ali last week, the media has been full of tributes and remembrances from statesmen, celebrities and athletes of all sports. But a few Brevard County residents had the joy of meeting Ali and have special memories of their own.Carolyn Turiano of Viera, while visiting her son at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, was having breakfast in her hotel’s dining room when she noticed two men at another table. One, she thought, looked amazingly like Muhammad Ali. When her waiter confirmed that it was indeed him, she said, “Would you mind asking him if my friend and I could have an autograph when he’s through breakfast?” The waiter did ask and promptly returned to Carolyn’s table. “Mr. Ali would like you to come over to his table now,” he said.cheapjerseys13 When Carolyn approached, Ali stood up, smiled and without hesitation shook her hand. He asked her name, where she was from, and what she was doing in Charlottesville. He seemed genuinely interested. Then the man with him, apparently as assistant, handed him a photo and a pen, and Ali inscribed:To CarolynFrom Muhammad AliLove is the net where hearts are caught like fishThat photo remains one of Carolyn’s lifelong treasures.I’m another lucky one to have met Ali, and while I wrote about that experience two years ago, it’s worth repeating briefly here because it’s such a good example of his friendliness and humor.I was passing through LaGuardia Airport in New York when I recognized Ali talking on a pay phone. There was no one else around. I waited nearby until he finished his call, then approached him and asked if I could have autographs for my two young sons. He couldn’t have been nicer and more approachable.”Are they boxers?” he asked, striking that well known smiling, impish, two fisted pose. “No, soccer and tennis are their games,” I replied. “Well, I won’t hold that against them. Tell them to work hard at both.” He asked their names and signed two separate pieces of paper for them.In the meantime, a small crowd gathered, recognizing Ali, and hoping to get autographs. He was accommodating and having fun with his fans, as he so often did.www.cheapjerseys13.com When he got to a burly airline baggage handler, Ali stared at him for a short moment, then growled, “I can’t sign for you. You look too much like Joe Frazier for me!” Everyone laughed, including Ali, who then happily signed. One night I sat down at a roulette table next to a man I recognized from having watched Ali fights. He was Bundini Brown, a colorful assistant trainer and outspoken cornerman for Ali. He was also a psychic and spiritual adviser to Ali who had answers and advice on all things. He was a real talker and showman, who wrote lines and poetry that Ali often used, like “Float like a butterfly, Sting like a bee.” That was a Bundini ism.Bundini and I hit it off that night and I couldn’t have had more entertaining company. When I started to call it a night, he asked me to wait a few minutes, and left the table to get something. He returned 10 minutes later and gave me a baseball hat imprinted with “Muhammad Ali Training Camp.” “This is to remember our fun night, and the time you met my boss,” which I had told him about. I still have that hat . and always will.Muhammad Ali was truly unique, as an athlete, a playful personality, and a caring human being. Meeting him, if only once, provided a memory for a lifetime.
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