In 2000, UNC was in the Final Four held in Indianapolis. My son, Parker, and I went and were on the mezzanine level when someone said, “Ali is coming!”
I grabbed Parker, and we rushed to an open area behind the seats. The champ came shuffling along. Accompanied by an aide, he looked great in his tan, silk, short-sleeved shirt and unmarked face.
There were no more than five of us when Muhammad Ali looked at Parker, 6 1/2, and stopped. He performed a disappearing handkerchief trick from 2 feet away. I still don’t know where the handkerchief went. Then Ali picked up Parker in both arms and hugged him.
With a lump in my voice, I said, “Way to go champ!” and “The Greatest” shuffled away looking as handsome and as fit as ever.
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When Ali left, Parker said, “Now I know why he said ‘float like a butterfly, sting like a bee!’ ” Why is that? Because it was around 8 p.m., and he had evening whiskers that scratched.
For years, my son had a huge poster on his closet door of Ali standing over Sonny Liston with a milk mustache on his upper lip.