Tonight is the 2016 ESPYs, with tons of awards and honors set to be given out to prominent athletes. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar presents a tribute in memory of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, a hush hush tribute with little details first revealed. Check out a clip of the tribute in the below tweet.
Recently, Chance the Rapper posted a message (below) on Facebook that he will take part in the tribute.
There is also a scheduled performance by Andra Day to sing her song “Rise Up,” but whether this is part of the tribute or not has not been revealed.
So, how did Jabbar and Ali know each other. In June 2016, Jabbar wrote an open piece via Publishers Weekly about his “friend and mentor” Muhammad Ali. He said that though he is 7’2″ tall, he never felt taller than when standing in his late friend’s shadow. Jabbar spoke powerfully about Ali, saying:
Part of Ali’s greatness was his ability to be different things to different people. To sports fans he was an unparalleled champion of the world, faster and smarter than any heavyweight before. To athletes, he was a model of physical perfection and shrewd business acumen. To the anti-establishment youth of the 1960s, he was a defiant voice against the Vietnam War and the draft. To the Muslim community, he was a pious pioneer testing America’s purported religious tolerance. To the African-American community, he was a black man who faced overwhelming bigotry the way he faced every opponent in the ring: fearlessly.
Jabbar also spoke about what Ali meant to people of his generation, explaining that:
Most young people today know Ali only as the hunched old man whose body shook ceaselessly from Parkinson’s Disease. But I, and millions of other Americans black and white, remember him as the man whose mind and body once shook the world. And the world has been better off because of it.
Ali’s tribute closed out the 2016 ESPYs. Other honors bestowed upon others tonight at the ESPY Awards included the late Zaevion Dobson receiving the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, reporter Craig Sager getting the Jimmy V Award and Army Sgt. Elizabeth Marks being honored with the Pat Tillman Award. In addition, there are three recipients of the Icon Award – Kobe Bryant, Peyton Manning and Abby Wambach.