Mom, Dad, Uncle Marvin, and Ali

I was born in Louisville, Kentucky. Raised 24 miles south in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. To this day, I have family members who live in the heart of the Derby City. Outside of Kentucky and Louisville basketball, and horse racing, anyone close to the Louisville area couldn’t escape the presence of the “Champ.”

(Source: portrait photography)

Whether it was billboards, quotes, watching VHS tapes of his greatest battles in the squared circle, or adults explaining to me his importance out of the ring, “Champ” was everywhere throughout my childhood.

So after his passing late Friday, and after reading tons of articles, and re-watching YouTube videos well into the early morning Saturday, I called three people separately. All three were over the age of 50, that met him, and in their respective lives gave me insight into what “Champ” meant to them. My Mom, Dad, and my uncle Marvin:

 

 

*****************

The Meeting

 

Mom (came to Louisville in 1979):

“I was in my 30’s. I was at Nancy’s hair boutique off Naomi Drive. It was a strip mall, a grocery store, a barber shop, a wig shop. And actually you used to get your hair cut there. A bank sat on the corner. Gosh, Lilian Yarbrough was my cosmetologist at the time. I went there that particular Saturday, all the ladies were under the hair dryer, and all this commotion was going on outside. Horns sounding, people screaming. Everybody was happy. Nancy (who owned the boutique) knew him because she was known in and around the city as a business woman. I don’t know what was going on, but something was going on.
Throngs of people outside, it was about 10 AM on a Saturday morning. All these men, with these suits, and these two ladies were with him. People were coming out of the supermarket, you saw the limosesnes, women were coming out of their houses with rollers in their head. People screaming Cassius Clay! Muhammad Ali! These two ladies were with him, one caught my eye. She had a Queen Latifah, Halle berry (skin) tone.

One lady had a soft baby blue, two piece, Taylor made suit. She had on some real nice pointed toe pumps on, she just caught my eye. Shoulder length hair, pink lipstick. Fair, not light skinned, a shade darker than I am. He (Ali) came out of a car, suit coat, no tie, all kinds of body guards. He was true to form, picking up the babies, shuffling his feet, talking trash. The whole nine. It was really something to see.

He was very cordial.  I told Your Dad after the fact he was a nice looking man, but when I shook his hand they were small. And I remember when he walked by, he smelled really good.”

Dad (came to Louisville 1964):

“The gym ain’t even there anymore. Hell I was young myself. I believe it was on Grant and Cecil, or on Cecil, I’m not sure. I was 18,19, might have been 20. Me and Bill Jones (friend) would go around the gym because we wanted to see the other people training. Clay was older than me, and was training. I didn’t come here till 1964, it was some years after that when I saw him. He was sparring and stuff. He looked more like a kid, had that damn lip. You could could hear him over in the next ring runnin that damn mouth. Met him. He spoke to everybody. He’d wave at you. Everybody, different age groups. That’s when I thought I could box, until a guy named Marcus Anderson made me see blue stars (laughter). I knew his daddy better than him. He was a construction painter, painting signs, houses. You know, he’s the one that painted they house pink. I knew his daddy cause I used to run around with Johnny Page (cousin of Greg Page, former heavyweight champion, also from Louisville). His momma used to have a brick house around the Buechel area.

Never did see him anywhere else.”

Uncle Marvin (came to Louisville October 22nd 1972):

“I worked at Sears for two years, and then went to overnight (trucking service, later bought by UPS).

I had to deliver freight to UofL’s campus bookstore. As I drove up to the loading dock, I noticed a crowd of people. It was by the loading area, and you knew it was him. I saw people around, and thought it was Ali.

He was with Bundini Brown. Somebody else was with him passing out Quran books. He was signing autographs (on the Quran). It’s green. I still have it and he signed it.

Just small talk, and he was cuttin up. I stayed for about ten minutes. I’ll say it was ’80 or ’79. He was so sharp, quick-witted.

I was on cloud nine. I shook his hand, hugged him. He looked lean, fit.

He was a jokester.

A experience I’ll never forget .”

 

 

 

 

***************

The Fan

Uncle Marvin: “I was scared to death. I told people this, I said man, I love Ali to death, but he’s bitten off more than he can chew. My stomach was turning, I couldn’t eat nothing.

It was about right around midnight when the fight was shown at Freedom Hall. Me, Prince, and some of the guys I went to UEI trade school with went to see it.

Foreman was pounding ’em.  And I was screaming, get off the ropes! Get off the ropes! Made ’em punch his self out, and Ali went to work on ’em.

When he went down, it was loud. I ain’t ever went to a ball game that was that crowded. Shoulder to shoulder. I was so relieved.
That fight taught me a valuable lesson. Styles make fights. Ali was a thinking fighter.”

****************

The Decline

Uncle Marvin:  “It hurt me to my heart to see him fight Larry Holmes. Larry Holmes himself knew he had only a shell of a man. I bet ya right now, Larry Holmes regrets it.

I knew he shouldn’t have took the fight. I almost cried. That hurt me so bad. I loved Ali just that much.

Ali shoulda retired after the second Spinks fight.

When I heard the slur in his voice. When he fought in the Norton fight, I picked up on it then, I didn’t know what it was, he was just getting older, and then it came out that he had Parkinson’s.”

 

 

 

 

 

****************

The Man

Mom: “He was genuine, real human being. Even being a polarizing figure. Here was this black man, in the 60’s, who was strong in his convictions. He was controversial, but he believed what he believed.”

Uncle Marvin: “He epitomizes what a strong black role model is. I like him for his courage, what he was up against. He always trying to help folks. “

Mom: “Some white people didn’t know what to expect, and some black people were mad, because he converted to Islam, and many came from baptist church upbringings.”

Uncle Marvin: “I’ll be honest with you. If there’s a person that’s great, it’s Muhammad Ali. I think he’s the greatest ambassador for our generation. He did stuff that the president couldn’t do. He went overseas, brought peace everywhere he went. He’s the biggest figure I’ve ever known in my life. I looked up to him because I respect what he did for boxing and the whole world.”

Mom: “One word to describe him, bold.”

Uncle Marvin: “He’s an extraordinary man.

He’s the biggest figure I’ve ever met in my life. “

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Weekly rumblings with a side of Bangerz (And yes it is who you think it is)

(Source: usatoday.com)

Your rumblings heading into the weekend:

— OMG! (that’s what kids are saying in texts right?) Louisville only beat Rutgers 24-10 last night! What gives? I told you they were underrated!!!

Signed,

College football fan that doesn’t believe Louisville is any good because of their schedule

OK. I get that Louisville’s schedule is putrid at best. Unfortunately folks these schedules are put in place way before just this year. I do know (and believe it’s common knowledge that Louisville tried to set a game up with Texas A&M… in which the Aggies and Cards couldn’t get worked out. They even tried to find a neutral game against Alabama or Wisconsin to start the year. You think the Tide or Badgers wanted to take that risk to play Louisville to start the year? I’ll let you answer that.

Look, I’m all for teams on the rise having to play a tougher schedule, but these teams also have to have the help from the power leagues to do so. This will all change starting next season and beyond when strength of schedule becomes a factor in determining the four teams in the College Football Playoff.

— Speaking of the start of next year’s playoff, Next Wednesday in Dallas, the 13 member committee selecting the four teams will be announced. According to the Associated Press and ESPN, the members are expected to be as follows:

Barry Alvarez, Mike Gould, Pat Haden, Tom Jernstedt, Jeff Long, Oliver Luck, Archie Manning, Tom Osborne, Dan Radakovich, Condoleezza Rice, Mike Tranghese, Steve Wieberg and Tyrone Willingham.

The members will also be responsible as well as ranking and placing at-large teams in the non contract New Year’s Day bowls (Cotton, Fiesta and Chick-fil-A).

Everyone saying that Condolezza Rice doesn’t belong on the committee need to relax. Do I believe Ms Rice watched college football all day Saturday in years past? No. But do I think that she will be very diligent in watching now. Yes. Listen, We could take 15 women, and make them watch the top ten teams games on a weekly basis, and I believe they could pick the top four teams. The ol’ eyeball test, and who you’ve played will tell you all you need to know. Not as difficult as folks are making it out to be. Just my two cents.

—I LOVE ED ORGERON!! I love his passion and how players love being around him (And Bruce Feldman’s book, Meat Market on Coach O and his former team Ole Miss is a classic, must read).  USC just looked like they were having fun last night at the Coliseum in their win over Arizona.

Here’s the reality. The Trojans are razor thin depth wise, and can’t really afford any injuries down the stretch. Do I think Coach O should be in consideration for the job, yes. I think he’s a tireless recruiter, and would have all the resources he needs to win at USC (better than what he had to deal with at Ole Miss).  I just don’t think AD Pat Haden will go that route, and will try to “stamp” the program from his point of view with a hire of his own.

—Mark Richt should just open up MASH units all across his football facilities in Athens. Banged up is the understatement of the year for Georgia.

—And no I’m not picking Missouri to win Saturday. Prove it Tigers, and my ears will perk up mid day Saturday.

—With or without D’Anthony Thomas, Oregon wins on the road against Washington. Although I think the Huskies are rising under Steve Sarkisian. Bishop Sankey is serious in the Huskies backfield.

—As great as Florida’s Defense is, I’m rolling with LSU Saturday. The Gators D will keep them in it early, but the Gators offense (although better with Tyler Murphy at QB) will sputter just enough for LSU to not go score for score with the Gators.

LSU 35  Florida 13

—The Red River Rivalry will be closer than we think Saturday. If it’s not, that Mack Brown hot seat, will be white hot after four quarters.

If There’s an Upset Saturday:

Arkansas over South Carolina.

Can we honestly just say that Arkansas have played as hard as anyone in the SEC this season? The Hogs led 24-7 over Rutgers before losing on the road, and loss to the greatest show on earth in Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M. The running game is beastly with Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams. And Brandon Allen has the makings of a future standout in the league moving forward. The defense aren’t world beaters, but they are good enough to pull of the upset, especially if the Gamecocks start slow (see UCF two weeks ago).

Funny Times since the last time I posted:

I was sent this actually three weeks ago. I didn’t laugh. Everyone around me did at the office when I watched it. In hindsight, It is… well…

This is funny in the sense that I can’t understand how in the world the defense can’t tackle, and how this kids just Thunder punches, and goes all beast mode on the would be tacklers.

 And Without Further Ado:

(Source:billboard.com)

Shhh… I like it. Well done Miley. Well done.

P.S, don’t judge me.

Enjoy the weekend!

Final Four Weekend, A Song I Can’t Get Out of My Head, And other Randomness

(Source: gamedayr.com)

SO Hows Your Bracket?

So if anyone read my post a few weeks ago on the NCAA Tournament and teams I thought can win it… I’m 2 for four in the Final Four!!! Problem is….my picks for my bracket only has ONE team in the Final Four. Does it surprise me that Michigan and Louisville is there? Nope. I picked VCU over Michigan, but thought the winner of that second round game would head to the Final Four, I just picked the Rams. As for Louisville, They have been one of the two best teams in the regular season, and the best team in the Tournament, and they were my pick to win it all anyway.

CINDERELLA WHERE ARE YOU?

(Source: thedailybeast.com)

So who had Florida Gulf Coast in the Sweet Sixteen? You’re lying if you did. Who thought they would beat Georgetown  You’re REALLY lying to me now.  But if you look more into their roster and see who they beat this season (Miami on the road), you can see they were capable of surprising someone. Add to the fact that they have an up tempo style, versus the Hoyas Princeton offense, you could see that happening… With all that said I didn’t see that coming, nor did you. And Please be honest with yourself.

CINDERELLA WAS PAST CURFEW

Prior to the great story of Florida Gulf Coast, hoops fans and media types alike were talking how crazy this tournament was going to be… It wasn’t. There are no George Masons, or no VCU’s that had to play a first four game and reach the Final Four. 99.9% of the time, the chalk always cuts the nets down. Think about it, who outside of NC State  (1982-83) surprised the field and won it all? Butler did MAKE the NCAA  Title Game two straight years…. But didn’t win it. At the end of the day, a program has to win 6 or 7 games to win it all. There will be a team that is a “True” Cinderella that will indeed win it someday (Just law of averages, like a 16 seed beating a 1), But 9 out of 10 times, the Kansas, Louisville’s, and Kentucky’s of the world will win it the majority of the time.

STYLES MAKE FIGHTS

College basketball and boxing are similar in their approach. Styles make fights, meaning an up tempo style, against a methodical approach poses great games and problems for either said team. Syracuse and their 2-3 zone poses problems for the likes of Indiana. Louisville’s pressure is hard to deal with when you play teams that have NEVER seen any sort of style like that. The list could go on and on. The College game is the style game more than any other sport in the country. That’s why we see the quintessential upsets in tourney games and during a regular season.. and yes other factors go into it (like shooting the basketball, poor shooting nights, injuries), but when you see contrasting styles on paper, it should give you reason to pause… at least for a second.

RANDOM THOUGHTS FROM THE LAST TWO WEEKS

(Source:bleacherreport.com)

—Two stories have dominated over the last two days in college athletics… the Auburn Tigers article written by Selena Roberts was the huge headline late Wednesday night and all day Thursday. A ton of scathing news from former player Mike McNeil and allegedly others in the report about some of the things that were going on at Auburn. For those that haven’t read it, copy and paste the link below:

http://www.roopstigo.com/reader/auburns_vainted_title_victims_violations_and_vendettas_for_glory/

I don’t know how much is truth, how much is false, But I have to think we are somewhere in the middle… the next week or so should be interesting.. I’ll have more on the state of college athletics in the coming weeks in my blog post.

(Source:nj.com)

–The guy above had to go. Mike Rice fired after a 30-minute video and reports surfaced of him physically and verbally abusing players. I love intensity, and a in your face coach that demands the very best from student athletes. But there’s a line that should NEVER be crossed. Throwing basketballs at players knees and heads, and using verbal slurs is that line of oblivion. Mike Rice knew that before hand, and knew it all the way up until that tape was made public by the Worldwide Leader. Tim Pernetti, the AD also knew, and unfortunately most times you are guilty by association. Pernetti hired Rice as his first big hire as AD, he suspended him three games last season and fined him 50K… so that tells me he knew this craziness was going on… He’s gotta be let go as well. End of Story.

–I’m excited about the NFL Draft… so much intrigue with every pick from the first round down to seventh. Should be fun at the end of the month… More on that as the Draft moves closer.

CRAZY Randomness….

I love this song… and when it comes out on iTunes or wherever.. i have to have it. Plus it’s an introduction to one of the greatest inventions EVER made in the food world.

Some of my Favorite reality shows have really brought it as well…

(Source:mstarz.com)

These ladies are wild. And I’ve only watched the first two episodes, and they are AWESOME.

Also can’t forget about the Ladies from Beverly Hills… the two-part reunion, very good, the first episode of

(Source:bravoratings.com)

Also very good. I miss my girls in Coto.

Also the first few episodes of

(Source:geekmundo.net)

Has also been very strong…

–I can’t forget Game of Thrones, Nashville, Smash, the list could go on and on… But I must say, the hottest show on Cable has to be…

(Source:realscreen.com)

I laugh hysterically at all times when I watch. and as you would imagine, SI is my guy… JACK!

Have a great weekend everyone.

The Honey Badger can run, and March Madness is close

Source:whodatdish.com

The Honey Badger Returns

After more than a year away from the LSU/National/College Football world… Tyrann Mathieu.. AKA The Honey Badger showed up at the NFL combine to show that he hasn’t missed a beat as far as football conditioning and skills. Did he ever show up… Mathieu ran a 4.43 40-yard dash and wowed all NFL personnel with his on field drill work. I don’t know where the heck he plays in as a DB (island cornerback, or a nickel), but I know that he is a pure FOOTBALL PLAYER, that can make plays anywhere on the field, including special teams. Although Alabama’s Dee Milliner ran a 4.3… I think that Mathieu was the best overall defensive back in Indy on Tuesday.

Source:gadome.com

ONE SHINING MOMENT

I LOVE college basketball. I’m from the great state of Kentucky, and nope, not a UK, UL or even Indiana fan. I’m a Duke Bludevil fan much to the chagrin of almost everyone in my family (and my friends who think I stink and I’m crazy). Many media experts believe that this years tournament is wide open, meaning anyone can win. When’s the last time we have heard of any “off the radar” team winning a title. Butler was as close as it came to winning one… and as a Duke fan.. those last final seconds had me nervous

http://youtu.be/SB00wfyuQjY?t=5m47s

Who can Win it?

I think there are a handful of teams that can cut the nets down in Atlanta in April, I just don’t think it’s as many as college hoops fans think. Remember, you have to win 6 games to get there, and you gotta have a team, that can do the following:

1. Win a game when you can’t shoot the ball well

2. Players that can come off the bench and give you a spark

3. Doing one thing Very well outside of scoring (defense, defensive pressure, 2nd chance points, etc)

4. and having more than one star on your team.

5. If you don’t have number 4, then you MUSt have at least two Really, Really good go to players.

So who qualifies for that in my opinion that can win it all?

1. Indiana- Talent, Talent, Talent. I’m taking that above all else in the tournament. They have a little bit of everything. Size on the interior (Cody Zeller) they have shooters that can extend the defense (Christian Watford, Will Sheehey) and a flat-out stud that can take over games when needed (Victor Olidipo). They play good enough defense, which equals a deep run into March and possibly much more. And yes I know they lost to Minnesota Tuesday night Gophers are a good team). I don’t care. They’re still elite.

2. Louisville- They just impose their will on teams. I know they reached #1 this season, and followed that up by losing three straight. I could care less. It’s very hard in this new college hoops world to not have a lapse in a season. It happens. This team is far better than the one that reached the Final Four a year ago. Russ Smith can go off for 30 at anytime, while Chene Behannan and Gorgui Dieng can pound the post with their scoring and defensive ability. And even when they can’t get a much-needed bucket, they can  just absolutely smother you with their varying defenses. From a full court man, to a trapping 3/4 court, to a matchup zone, the Cards can easily break of a 15-0 run before a team can blink.

3. Michigan- The Wolverines are playing in the toughest league this season (Big Ten), a league that could easily have two of the four Final Four Teams in Atlanta this season. Like Louisville they have had their hiccups, but 3 of their four loses were to ranked teams within the Big Ten, along with a OT loss to Wisconsin. This team will be a force to reckon with, elite guards in Tim Hardaway Jr, and Trey Burke, along with a versatile freshman wing in Greg Robinson III, that can have a tournament run that could carry the Maize and Blue. Add a capable post in Mitch McGary, and a shooter that can shoot from the hashes (Nik Stauskas), The Wolverines can be deadly

4. Duke- And yes I’m a Duke fan, but this team can win it all… IF and a big IF Ryan Kelly can return to form and play a reasonably high level. Kelly has missed the last month due to a foot injury. The Dukies have dropped 3 games, two of them to ranked teams (Miami, NC State) and another to a team that could make the big dance as well (Maryland). They are athletic enough to be able to score from the perimeter, and Mason Plumlee is playing at a Wooden award level. Ryan Kelly will be key, If they have them, they can win it, if they don’t.. they can still head to the Final Four, but just would like to have him in the lineup if possible.

Other teams that can cut the nets down:

Arizona, Kansas, Florida

**And yes I know there are some other teams out there can you may think can win it.. Leave a comment and let me know, I’ll answer during next weeks blog post***

 

Top College Football Jobs in America

These are according to Athlon sports. Take a look. And nope, Alabama is not number one, or even number two…

http://www.athlonsports.com/college-football/ranking-college-footballs-coaching-jobs-2013

 

Reality News stream of consciousness

— The Real Housewives of Atlanta is the best set of Housewives on Bravo

-The ladies of Beverly Hills an d New Jersey are tied for my second favorite.

-I have not missed an episode of Kourtney and Kim take Miami. Nor will I  ever.

-I’m upset with myself for  not watching this seasons The Bachelor

-The Gypsy sisters are AWESOME on TLC. Great TV.

-The Real Husbands of Hollywood. Great Stuff. Shout out to Kevin Hart.

-Shahs of Sunset great TV too, can’t wait till they return next season. Lily is my openly secret crush. My wife knows and understands.

-Swamp People. Watch it.

-Big Rich Atlanta. Watch it.

That will do it for this week… See you all next week… until then, enjoy a little Uncle Drew. I. Get. BUCKETS!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvwMsbgVNoY

The Stars of Tommorrow, with a side of Cool Ranch Tacos, topped with Don Johnson

(Source:espn.com)

Signing Day 2013

The stars of tomorrow are signed, sealed and delivered to college football programs around the country. And guess who took home that big fella pictured above (Derrick Henry), and an abundance of other talent? ALABAMA. surprise, surprise. Look, They are the creme de la creme of the college game right now, and players have taken  notice. For those that think that prospects pick universities for universities are sadly mistaken. It’s who’s winning, and winning at a high level, and what coaching staff can get them to the next level the fastest. Check, Check, Check for Nick Saban and his staff. Here are my Top 5 recruiting classes in the SEC:

1. Alabama- Derrick Henry, Alvin Kamara, Altee Tenpenny, Robert Foster, A’Shawn Robinson, the list goes on and on. Kudos to Saban’s coaching staff (Mike Groh, Lance Thompson, etc)  on landing some of these huge gets across the country. Every recruiting service out there has tabbed this class as numero uno.

2. Ole Miss– Had Alabama missed out on one or two players late on signing day, Ole Miss would have grabbed the top spot. What Hugh Freeze and his staff did is nothing short of unbelievable. Not only did they grab the nation’s number one player, DE Robert Nkemdiche, but then the nation’s top lineman in Laremy Tunsil, and then the possible next great SEC  WR in Laquon Treadwell, along with a slew of other instant talent, the Rebels could have laid a foundation to be special down the road.

3. Auburn- I’m putting the Tigers here because the way Gus Malzahn and his new staff hustles and close the deal on a number of talented prospects, that include DE Carl Lawson, and DT Montravious Adams. Getting Jonathan Ford to flip his commitment from Vanderbilt to Auburn was also huge, he could be a sleeper for the Tigers in the future. Overall from top to bottom a very solid class that fits the need of what Malzahn wants to do in his offense and what defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson wants to establish in his 4-2-5 defensive scheme.

4. Florida- Will Muschamp established  a toughness and physical nature during his tenure in Gainesville. He has restocked his cupboard with some top end talent. Vernon Hargreaves II could be the next great DB, with Alex Anzalone becoming a versatile LB that can run sideline to sideline.

5. Texas A&M– Kevin Sumlin has recruited some new weapons for Johnny Football to throw to, and it starts with Sealy, TX native Ricky Seals-Jones. a huge target that can stretch the field, he along with teammate Jaquay Williams could be much-needed infusion of talent for the Aggies passing game. Sumlin and the Aggies are as hot as any program in the country.. and they have that QB for the next two seasons

(Source:nydailynews.com)

College Hoops quick hitters

–Hated to see Nerlens Noel go down with a apparent knee injury Tuesday night against Florida. It was revealed Wednesday that he has a torn ACL is out for the season. Even as Duke fan that was born and raised in the great state of Kentucky, It stunk seeing this guy get hurt. He works so hard and does so much for a team that is average at best. Here’s to a speedy recovery Nerlens, the NBA is waiting.

–there are about 10 teams I think that can win a National Title. yes we’ve had a ton of upsets during the regular season, and yes there are no all time great teams (i.e Kentucky 2012), but there are still a handful of teams that are very, very good. I’ll talk about those teams next week.

— Victor Oladipo is sick.

–The Louisville Cardinals will be fine.

–Even though Miami beat the brakes off Duke, I still need to see more. this is the same team that loss to Florida Gulf Coast this season. It’s one thing to be the hunter, but when you are the hunted, things change, they will find that out heading into March.

–Ben McElmore is sick.

–Speaking of Kansas and other teams that have had losing streaks of late, does anyone expect teams to just go undefeated? Teams will have lulls in seasons, not a huge deal in the grand schemes of things. Now if you start losing late heading into Conference Tourney play…

(Source: huffington post.com)

ITS ON THE WAY! YES!

I ate seven Los Doritos Tacos last week… in one sitting. On March 7th, my favorite flavored Doritos will now come to the Taco Bell. I will eat 10, and wont blink.  I am so excited to destroy as many of these as I can in about a 2 week period. Thank you Taco Bell for blessing us with this pure goodness.

FINALLY.. HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!

Here’s my Love day song to you by the greatest musician ever. Enjoy below.

That’s it! Enjoy the weekend!