Muhammad Ali: An Outspoken Legend Passes Away

Muhammad Ali: An Outspoken Legend Passes Away

The man who fought for what he believed in.

After being hospitalized because of respiratory issues and put on life support, Muhammad Ali passed away on June 3, 2016 in Phoenix, Ariz. Since 1985, Ali had been struggling with Parkinson's Disease. Even with this setback, he managed to remain outspoken. Of the many political and social issues he covered, he focused on helping people to embrace and accept Islam, especially when many politicians have relied on anti-Muslim rhetoric to gain a following.

He is best known for his athletic prowess in boxing -- having won an Olympic gold medal and received the heavyweight title three times, becoming the first fighter to do so. Often being described as "silver-tongued" or "poetic," Ali was also famous for his speeches and trash talk.

Muhammad Ali was self-assured, determined, and creative, and after I, years back, watched a video clip of him talking, I gained a large amount of respect for him. Despite being quiet and soft-spoken myself, his outgoing nature inspired me in many ways. He unabashedly stood up for what he knew to be true. Many people back down if their views are challenged, especially when threatened with the loss of their freedoms, but he prevailed in letting his beliefs be known.

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. in Louisville, Ky. (1940), Ali began his boxing training when he was 12 years old. After his bike was stolen, he told police officer and boxing trainer Joe Martin that he wanted to beat up the thief, to which Martin reportedly responded with, "Well, you better learn to fight before challenging people," and took Ali under his wing.

Even before he reached the age of 18, Ali excelled in the sport. Before choosing the name Muhammad Ali, he referred to himself as Cassius X. When he joined Nation of Islam, he changed his name to how we know it today. In 1975, he converted to Sunni Islam, then to Sufism in 2005.

It was because of the grounds of his faith that he refused to be inducted into the U.S. Armed Forces during the Vietnam War. Demonstrating more than a knack for trash talk, Ali spoke multiple times about opposing the war and draft as a Muslim minister, an American citizen, and a black man.

One of his most remarkable yet lesser-known feats was when he met with Saddam Hussein on Nov. 29, 1990 in Baghdad, Iraq, to secure the release of 15 American hostages. Ali stayed in the city for about a week, meeting starstruck citizens before he was able to talk with Hussein.

Despite running out of medication for his Parkinson's and being bedridden, he maintained his drive to do what he came there for, and succeeded. During and afterwards, the media and those in the U.S. government criticized his mission, seeing it as nothing more than a publicity stunt, to which Ali responded that he needs publicity for many things, but not for helping people.

After powering through 32 years despite being troubled with Parkinson's Disease, Ali proved that he was just as capable a fighter as he was in his boxing days. He picked fights in and outside the ring -- some purely physical, others with his words and beliefs.

Throughout his life, many labels had been placed upon him: boxer, egomaniac, Muslim, black, insincere, American, etc. Many of these have been said contemptuously, trying to draw attention away from his identity and all he accomplished. In his death, may we remember him for the athletic, poetic, religious, and humanitarian legend he was.

Cover Image Credit: Wikipedia

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it


Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

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Big Slick KC: The Importance Behind Celebrities Coming Together in Kansas City

This annual event is one of my favorite things to attend, and it's the 10th year, so it deserves recognition.


Every year since 2010, Big Slick KC has been a huge event held in Kansas City, Missouri, where celebrities from our favorite shows and movies come together for one weekend to raise money for Children's Mercy Hospital.

The hosts of Big Slick are none other than Paul Rudd, Eric Stonestreet, Jason Sudeikis, Rob Riggle, and David Koechner. Every year, they invite around 40 celebrities to participate in the weekend's events.

This year had some big names like Selena Gomez, Olivia Wilde, Zachary Levi, Haley Joel Osment, Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs, and many more. Each year they try to bring in new people, while also having some Big Slick veterans return.

The busy and wonderful weekend starts out with the celebrities all coming in and visiting the children at Children's Mercy Hospital, spending time with them and taking pictures. I think it's amazing how they take the time to actually get to know some of the kids that they are raising the money for.

After that, the celebrities head to Kauffman Stadium, break up into two teams, and face-off in a not-so-serious softball game before the Royals game. Each celebrity gets their own signature Royals jersey and they play a few innings. They also come out again and sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" for the seventh-inning stretch.

The next morning, the celebrities all make their way to the Pinstripes bowling alley in Overland Park, where they are greeted by hundreds of awaiting fans.

After the children of Children's Mercy are introduced and walk along the red carpet with their parents, the celebrities follow, taking pictures and signing autographs along the way. They head inside and bowl with the children from the hospital.

That night, the celebrities all come together one last time to host a huge party, this year it was at the Sprint Center, where they all just perform and have a good time. They also host an auction where some pretty cool items and opportunities are auctioned off.

Besides just being a fun event to attend and a good way to see some of your favorite celebrities up close, Big Slick is just so important because of its cause.

This year, Big Slick KC raised around $2.5 million for Children's Mercy Hospital. That brings the total to over $10 million that Big Slick has raised since 2010.

This amazing weekend is always so much fun, not just because some big stars come to a fly over state, but because of the children that they are raising the money for. The hosts and the celebrities that attend all care so much about the cause, and they make a great weekend out of it for anyone who attends.

I'm already looking forward to next year's exciting weekend.

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