The world has lost an icon, an activist, an entertainer, and one of the best athletes of all time in Louisville native Muhammad Ali. Hundreds if not thousands of stories will be told, but one of them is truly unforgettable, when he made a surprise appearance at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta to light the final torch.

Ali's arm was shaking from Parkinson's Disease, but he lifted that torch to remind all of us nothing is impossible. He not only inspired the scores of athletes watching him live, he inspired the world. Gold medalist swimmer Janet Evans, who passed the torch off to the champ said it was the defining moment of her Olympic career.


London in 2012. I recall in the summer of '96, I was working at Ohio County's marching band camp and Ali's appearance is all we talked about the morning after. There were tears.

A public memorial service will be held at Louisville's KFC Yum! Center on Friday.