Over the course of more than 30 years, ET spent plenty of time with Muhammad Ali, and now we're looking back at some of our favorite memories with the late icon
1. When he punctuated our interview with an impromptu rhyme. One of ET's first interviews with The Champ took place in 1981 at the Sugar Ray Leonard vs Thomas Hearns fight party, where he dropped the mic with this on-the-spot verse. "I love your show / you're awful beautiful / I admire your style / but the pay is so cheap / don't call me for a while," he said with a laugh.
2. His star-studded 50th birthday party. Hollywood idolized Ali, and some of the biggest stars on the planet turned out to celebrate him turning a half a century old in 1992. Diana Ross and Billy Crystal honored the fighter and Whitney Houston sang "The Greatest Love of All," her song from a movie about Ali's life, called The Greatest. "I love this song as I love Muhammad Ali," Houston said at the event. "This is the first time I've had the opportunity to sing it to one of the greatest men of all."
3. When he promoted Ali alongside Will Smith on The Oprah Winfrey Show. In 2001, Ali was getting ready for the release of another movie about him, Ali starring Will Smith. The two chatted about the film with Oprah Winfrey in front of a crowd that welcomed Ali by chanting his name. "[Will] is almost as pretty as me," the boxer joked.
4. When he accepted a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. One of the last times ET got to speak with Ali was in 2002, when he was presented with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame just before his 60th birthday. "If everybody had a birthday like this, it would be a happy world," he told ET. While the distinction is usually reserved for movie stars, filmmakers and musicians, Ali was given the honor for his showmanship as well as his two GRAMMY-nominated spoken-word albums I Am the Greatest and Ali and His Gang Vs. Mr. Tooth Decay. The sports icon's star stands out among the others as his actually rises above the sidewalk, situated on a wall of the Dolby Theatre. Ali reportedly had his star put on a wall because he did not want the name of Muhammad to be stepped on.
Ali died at the age of 74 on Friday following a 32-year battle with Parkinson's disease.