Memories and remembrances
Hunter meets The Greatest
The Twins held a moment of silence for Muhammad Ali before Saturday's game at Target Field. Earlier in the day, one of the team's greats shared some memories.
Torii Hunter met Ali in 2011 during spring training when the legend visited the Angels during spring training. Hunter was the first player to greet him and has an autographed pair of boxing shoes from Ali.
"When he walked in, it was like greatness was amongst us," Hunter said. "Everyone was in awe. It didn't matter if he was black or white. It was like, 'This is The Greatest.' He sat down and listened to our morning message from [manager] Mike Scioscia. And it was impressive. We just stared at him and afterward we took pictures with him."
When asked what Ali meant to the black athletes who followed him, Hunter said Ali's charisma and beliefs made him a hero for people of all races.
"It's sad," Hunter said. "That guy is one of the greatest sports icons to have ever lived. He believed in certain things and he stuck with it. Some people didn't like it, but he stuck with his faith and he stuck with what he believed in no matter what. And he did some great things in the community. He was a champion all around. Not just a champion in the ring, he was a champion outside the ring as well."
La Velle E. Neal III
Ali and KAT strike a pose
"Was one of the most special moments of my life. R.I.P to the one and only @muhammadali #GOAT #hislegacylivesforever"
— Karl-Anthony Towns, Wolves star, on Instagram
King of Louisville
Ali, a Louisville, Ky., native, would visit the University of Louisville locker room from time to time, Richard Pitino said. But the Gophers men's basketball coach has a more personal memory of the champ from his days as a Cardinals assistant.
"We were in Phoenix, playing Florida in the Elite Eight," Pitino said Saturday. "It was my last year at Louisville as associate head coach. Afterward, Jill [Pitino's wife] showed me a picture. They were sitting right in front of Muhammad Ali at the game, and he had asked to hold Ava. His wife said that he loves babies."
Hamilton, Ontario: an Ali spotting
Pete DeBoer, the San Jose Sharks coach, isn't a collector, but he does have a Quran signed by Ali in his basement.
"I wouldn't normally share this with you," DeBoer told the media Saturday before Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, and began a great memory:
"I got it 30 years ago. I was at my prom at the Royal Connaught Hotel in Hamilton [Ontario]. I was a 17-year-old kid. Had my tux on. I was in the lobby. Muhammad Ali walked in with his entourage. He was there for some type of appearance.
"I asked one of the entourage if I could meet him with my friends. He said to give him a minute. He came back to me and he said, 'Muhammad Ali is up in this room. Meet him up in his room in five minutes.'
"Me and three or four of my buddies went up to the room. He got out a Quran for each of us. He wasn't preaching or trying to convert us, he just personalized each one for us, asked us some questions about what we were doing.
"It was an unbelievable life experience for me. ... This guy transcended not just boxing and sport, but how many people he's touched."
"I never got in the ring with anyone as tough as Muhammad Ali. No matter how hard you hit him, he was not going to fall." — George Foreman
"I consider it one of the great privileges of my life to have known the champ." — Larry Fitzgerald, Minneapolis native and NFL star
"You'll always be The Greatest for more than just what you did in the ring. A champion to so many people in so many ways." — Tiger Woods
"RIP Ali one of the greatest and most inspirational athletes of all time!" — tweet from NFL receiver Mike Evans, with a photo of a tattoo on his forearm of Ali as a champion
"He was my hero. He always will be." — Serena Williams, hours after losing the French Open final, on Instagram