Friday night the sports world lost an icon, as Muhammad Ali passed away at the age of 74 in a Phoenix-area hospital. For everything that Ali accomplished in the boxing ring, it was what he did outside of it that led many to label him as “The Greatest of All Time.” Beginning with his work during the Civil Rights movement and not stopping later in life despite his dealing with the effects of Parkinson’s disease, Ali worked to use his influence to better the lives of others.
Sending a letter on behalf of a metropolitan area looking to host the Final Four wouldn’t sit too high on a list of everything Ali accomplished during his life, but that’s exactly what he did in 2012.
Saturday morning the organizing committed for next year’s Final Four (to be held in Glendale, Arizona) tweeted the letter Ali send to then-Division I men’s basketball committee chair Ron Wellman on behalf of the Phoenix metropolitan area’s bid to host the event. Ali called the area home for years, and he noted the city’s love for sports as a reason why he moved to Phoenix after retiring from boxing.
Next April’s Final Four will be the furthest that the event has been since Seattle’s since-demolished Kingdome hosted it back in 1995. And given his connection not only to the Phoenix area but to the bid to get the Final Four, one would expect Ali to be honored throughout the weekend.