As one of the greatest sports icons to walk the earth, Muhammad Ali has left a legacy both in and outside of the ring. Not only a champion boxer, but also an inspiring and polarizing activist. He certainly left an impression on many, and that included the Baltimore Ravens.
The practice before the Ravens' season opener in 2012 was a special one, after all, it was the culmination of an entire offseason of hard work and preparation. But this special practice also had a special guest. In attendance was Muhammad Ali, who was in town for a fundraising event. Introduced to the team by Jack Harbaugh, John's father, the fiery speech delivered by the elder Harbaugh was appropriate for the persona of Ali. Recalling the infamous Ali-Terrell fight of 1967, Harbaugh told the team about the fight and Ali's famous "What's my name?" retort.
Afterwards Ali took pictures and shook hands with the star-struck Ravens for about an hour. "Still can't believe I had the opportunity to meet this man ... words can't describe how much I admired his confidence and work outside of the ring," wrote former Ravens receiver Torrey Smith in an Instagram post dedicated to the passing of Ali. Said linebacker Ray Lewis, "If he taught me nothing else, live life your way. Because he was the only 1 putting in hrs that nobody else could see ... rest in Peace Champ I'm honored the time I got to spend with you on this earth. God has much work waiting on the other side."
Ali would attend the Ravens' home game against the Cincinnati Bengals the following day, where the Ravens prevailed 44-13 over their rivals. And while he couldn't accept John Harbaugh's invitation to the Super Bowl due to his battle with Parkinson's, Ali donned a Ray Lewis shirt while watching the big game and posed in front of a sign that read "Ravens #1."
Although it was just a quick bullet on his otherwise gigantic resume of achievements, I'm sure "The Greatest" was proud to play a part in one of the greatest postseason runs in a while.