Ali died near Phoenix, Ariz., after being hospitalized earlier in the week with respiratory problems. He had also suffered from Parkinson's for 20 or more years.
Born Cassius Clay, Ali converted first to Islam and then to Sufism and, in 1967, refused to be conscripted into the U.S. military. He cited his religious beliefs and was stripped for four years of his heavy-weight-champion status before a Supreme Court ruling upheld his conscientious-objector claims. Outside the ring he stood boldly for blacks.
He was a man of substance despite the substance heaped upon him.
What an athlete.
What a man.