I can honestly tell you that Muhammad Ali is the first famous sports figure I remember. His legend was already established by the time I was old enough to remember anything. Now the American icon and boxing legend has died at 74.

The Louisville, Kentucky native, born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. passed away in a Phoenix-area hospital where he was being treated for respiratory complications, according to an NBC report.

Ali was a three-time World Heavyweight Boxing Champion who, for more than three decades, had been suffering from Parkinson's Disease, an affliction that had rendered him unable to speak for the last several years.

Ali was born in 1942 and started boxing in adolescence. He quickly rose to superstardom in the early 1960s when he converted to Islam and changed his name from Cassius Clay.

A 1974 fight with longtime and legendary rival Joe Frazier was one I remember watching on TV, despite the fact that no one in my family was ever a boxing fan. That's just how big that Madison Square Garden bout was.

Muhammad Ali never shied away from controversy and was always interesting even if he left you scratching you head and whatever he might say or do.

His trademark rhymes fascinated me when I was a kid.

Muhammad Ali, one of the most world-renowned sports figures in American history...dead at 74.

"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee."