Laila Ali took the stage Sunday night at the BET Awards to remember the life of her father, the late and legendary heavyweight champion and humanitarian Muhammad Ali.
“My father Muhammad Ali lived his life with conviction and purpose. He is known the world over as the greatest athlete of all time, a man who fearlessly faed opposition both in and out of the ring,” she said. “But to me and my eight sisters and brothers, he was just dad. As his youngest daughter, I can tell that he also was a loving, gentle, and principled man.”
At one point, Laila had to compose herself and apologized for becoming emotional.
“These past few weeks, my father’s generosity and love have been matched by a worldwide outpouring and reverence for him and our entire family,” she continued. “We are honored and grateful for all the love, kindness, and appreciation that’s been shown to him in return. My father also once said, ‘If people love each other as much as they love me, it’d be a better world.’ If he was here today, he would humbly ask you to pray not just for our family, but for all of mankind.”
Laila Ali was introduced by Jamie Foxx, who starred in the 2001 biopic, Ali, as the boxer’s cornerman, Bundini Brown. Foxx remembered meeting the champ on set by saying what Brown once said about Ali: “Muhammad Ali is a prophet. How’re you going to beat God’s son?” That moment stuck with Foxx.
“To have him give me acknowledgement, a person who’s not only the greatest, not only a legend, but stood up at a time when no one was standing up,” Foxx said. “It’s definitely more than just boxing, more than just entertainment, but a person who has shaped all of our lives.”
Ali, the vocal and boastful boxing legend, died June 3 at 74 after battling Parkinson’s disease for 32 years. His death ushered in praise and remembrances from all corners of the world, from President Barack Obama to J.K. Rowling to Lin-Manuel Miranda. Ali’s funeral was held June 10 in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky and attracted former President Bill Clinton, Billy Crystal, Bryant Gumbel, and thousands more.
Earlier in the awards show, fellow Louisville native Bryson Tiller shout out Ali when accepting the Best New Artist award.
See the full list of BET Awards winners here.