David Chaudoir grew up playing in the backyard at Muhammad Ali's long-time home in Berrien Springs, MI -- just 29 minutes from the University of Notre Dame. He later worked 12 years for Muhammad Ali Enterprises as their Director of Marketing.
That's David a number of years ago with Ali -- please know it pains me to post a photo of Ali wearing this shirt...
For the last three years -- David has been my teammate here at the University of Notre Dame.
Today -- David is in Louisville with Ali's family and former colleagues celebrating the life of his friend.
David wrote this reflection -- the night of Ali's death. He's allowed me to share this with all of you today.
“After me, there will never be another.”
One of Muhammad Ali’s famous lines. He had an endless
supply of them. He had an endless supply of everything: fun, talent, mischief,
justice, audacity, humor, peace, energy, faith, and most of all, love.
When I first met Muhammad in the mid-1980s I had no
understanding of who he was beyond the fun guy with a playground in his
backyard down the street. A decade later, I went to work in his office when I
started college and for years beyond. Only then did I come to realize the
magnitude of his impact.
Muhammad’s awe and appreciation of the world and people
around him was met only by his ability to harness them for good. This was due
both to his abiding faith in God and his authenticity as a human being living
out that faith.
Muhammad was a supreme athlete, an activist, a
trickster,an iconoclast, a
humanitarian, a titan, but I knew him as a confidant, a mentor, a calming
presence. He was a philosopher-poet who lived in the real world, shaking and
brightening it along the way. His uncanny ability to sense people’s moods
extended from society in general to the few of us who worked with him every
He was aware of his effect on people which accounts for so
many missed airplanes and appointments—from the beginning of his career and for
as long as he was able to, he would stop for photos, autographs, hugs. He loved
to surprise people; even on the highway he’d roll down the window and stare at
unsuspecting drivers. It seems anyone you meet has a Muhammad Ali story. There
are literally millions of them.
Muhammad treated everyone with the same level of dignity:
celebrity, president, king, sheikh, the people who worked with him. He didn’t
give preferential treatment to anyone. He loved his family. He loved his
friends. In the same hour he could give you a belly laugh and say something
inspirational that would reduce you to tears. Muhammad was a happy person and a
perpetual source of joy for everyone who knew him and for the millions who only
knew him from the media. Such was the range of his aura.
This man was comfortable anywhere and everywhere. Yet
small-town Michigan was his home for nearly thirty years after he retired from
boxing. I was so fortunate and blessed to have spent many of those years with
him. A boy from Berrien Springs who was able to walk this earth in his company,
bearing witness to untold moments of grace and compassion the likes of which I
will surely never see again.
Muhammad Ali was and is exactly who he said he was: The
Greatest of All Time.
Muhammad, you were the King of the World and the Prince
of our Hearts.