Like so many people around the world, Charley Pride was heartbroken when he heard the news that boxing legend Muhammad Ali had passed away. After a 32-year battle with Parkinson's disease, Ali passed away in a Phoenix hospital on June 3 at the age of 74.
For Pride, who was good friends with Ali, it's been tough to come to terms with his death. Pride plans to attend Ali's funeral on Friday (June 10) in Louisville, but in the meantime, he's taking the time to reflect on the life and legacy of his friend.
Both Pride and Ali are considered pioneers in the African American community. At the same time Ali made his rise to fame, so did Pride, who eventually went on to become the second African American artist to ever be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.
Together, the two of them managed to break barriers that allowed for others to follow in their footsteps. In Pride's case, his induction into the Opry later led to the induction of the third African American artist, Darius Rucker.
Pride has the highest level of admiration for Ali, telling the Dallas Observer that despite all of the challenges he faced, he always remained positive.
"Just like him, I took the hits. I remember what he had to go through. I never got bitter and I don’t think he ever got bitter. He just used his talent and his heart and his wit."
It's clear from the way Pride speaks about Ali that he had nothing but respect for the man who was known as "the greatest."
"He was a great man and a good friend," Pride said. "Some people objected to him at times, but overall, in the end, I think the whole world loved him."
According to the amount of tributes that have poured in since Ali passed away, we'd say that Pride's statement is correct. We continue to send our prayers to Ali's family and loved ones during this sad time.
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