Ever See The Time Muhammad Ali Saved A Man’s Life? (Video)

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Although Muhammad Ali was extremely gifted in the boxing ring, what made him “The Greatest” was also what he did outside of the sport. Beyond his well-documented civil rights stands, Ali was a humanitarian and someone who cared deeply about others. Perhaps no instance exemplified this better than what Ali did in Los Angeles on January 19, 1981.

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Having retired from boxing, six months earlier, Ali was living the life of an ex-champion. On that January afternoon, he was in his home when he received a call from his public relations manager, Howard Bingham, about a man who had been on a ledge of a high rise building for nearly 4 hours, threatening to kill himself. According to a report from the wire service United Press International (as spotted on Slate), Bingham saw the man and asked if they thought Muhammad Ali might be able to help. Despite being told no, Bingham called Ali anyway, and told UPI “About four minutes later, Ali comes driving up the wrong side of the street in his Rolls-Royce with his lights blinking.”

Video shows Ali running to the building and finding a perch a few feet away from where the man sat. From there, Ali plead with him in tears. Ali said of the moment, “He saw me weeping and he couldn’t believe that I was really doing that, that I cared that much about him.” Ali, who was deeply rooted in his faith, told the man “If you jump, you’re going to hell because there’s no way to repent.” The man, who was never identified by name, told Ali he was depressed and could not find a job. Ali recounted, “He said his mother and father don’t love him, that nobody loves him. I told him I love him or I wouldn’t be there.”

After a tense and emotional 20-minute exchange, Ali was able to talk the man down, pulling him from the ledge in a powerful embrace, like a real-life super hero. Their interaction did not stop there. Ali personally delivered the man to the police station, in his Rolls Royce, vowing that his aid would not stop there. “I’m going to help him go to school and find a job, buy him some clothes,” said Ali. “I’m going to go home with him to meet his mother and father. They called him a nobody, so I’m going home with him. I’ll walk the streets with him and they’ll see he’s big.”