Lynn Boyd Jr., 60, remembers hearing his mother yell, “Cassius Clay is on Wide World of Sports!”
He was 11 years old and came sprinting with his siblings into the house, as was routine any time his loud, brash idol appeared on TV.
Boyd returned Saturday to stand in front of the hospital where Muhammad Ali died, and for one last time, feel close to the most influential sports figure of his lifetime.
A small memorial surrounded by shaded benches included red-and-white boxing gloves, purple flowers and white candles centered around a photograph with a piece of white paper stuck to it that read, “Float on … May a great man and a precious soul rest in peace.”
Asked when he first heard about Ali, Boyd pointed to his son Jayden, 9, and said, “Not much younger than him.”
Boyd said he and other young black men of his generation took inspiration from Ali’s refusal to be drafted.
“The boxing thing is on film for everybody to see,” he said. “Me, myself, I more admire him for what he stood for, and why telling the truth matters.”
Jose Estrada had a brother in the same hospital as Ali, HonorHealth Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center.
On Friday night, fellow patients and even a few nurses murmured that Ali was struggling to breathe, Estrada said.
“Sad, man, to see one of the guys, the best boxers in the world, be gone.”