There’s a lot to celebrate about Muhammad Ali’s life, and so much of it was separate from his astounding boxing career.
Back in 1981, Ali happened to be nearby when a distraught and mentally disturbed man threatened to jump to his death from a building in Los Angeles.
“I’m no good, I’m going to jump. The Viet Cong are coming at me,” the man shouted.
Police, a psychologist, and a minister had all been called to the ledge to try to calm the man, but they’d all “given up” after hours of coaxing. But Muhammad Ali, who happened to be nearby the building, volunteered to come up to the ledge himself and talk to the distraught man.
Ali then headed for another window, poked his head out and yelled to the man, “I’m your brother, I want to help you.” The man recognized Ali, and opened the door to the fire escape as Ali approached him. They sat and talked for 20 minutes, and as the report notes, it looked like “Ali was going to fail” several times. But Ali wouldn’t let that happen, would he?
Eventually, the man went inside. According to Ali, he broke down in tears as soon as he was in the care of authorities.
Watch a report on the story from the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite: