Photo by H. Darr Beiser-USA TODAY Sports
One drizzly May afternoon 17 years ago, Muhammad Ali’s wife brought two large glasses of wheatgrass juice to his office on his 57-acre farm in southern Michigan. His private chef had prepared them. Lonnie Ali had Muhammad on a very strict diet at the time, which he was heartily dedicated to avoiding.
After we dutifully drank our drinks—mine tasted like liquid weeds—and handed back the empty glasses, Muhammad waited just long enough for his wife to return to the main house before saying, “Let’s get a cheeseburger.” It wasn’t a suggestion.
I followed him down the stairs to the garage, where a huge black Chevrolet Blazer sat with the keys in the ignition. At Ali’s direction, I drove us down an empty country two-lane highway into the village of Berrien Springs, through the one stoplight, and on to the local McDonald’s.
Ali dutifully stood in line. After we’d each ordered quarter-pounders with mustard and onions—no catsup—large fries, and strawberry milkshakes, the girl behind the counter refused to let Ali pay. Ali did not insist.
At our booth, he began to eat his cheeseburger really quickly, as if he hadn’t eaten a meal in 10,000 years. But then he slowed down, to enjoy the deliciously illicit feast. The expression on his face—which, eighteen years after his final fight, had acquired a little bloating—now gave him a not-unflattering Buddha caste.
At one point, an old man in the next booth, looking out the window, spoke without looking at us. “Summer comin’, champ.”
“Gonna get warm,” Ali answered.
“Gonna feel good,” said the man, and Ali nodded.
In the parking lot, a guy pushing a broom through puddles of water said, “You’re lucky you’re retired, champ,” and Ali nodded.
A simple life being lived by a simple man. He was in heaven.
The champ. Photo by Photo ….View full article