Muhammad Ali’s popularity extended well beyond the confines of the boxing ring and fight fans. Arguably, the most popular athlete in history, his passing elicited an outpouring of tributes from across the sporting spectrum.
Known as “The Greatest,” Ali helped inspire countless other athletes to rise to the top of their respective sports. From the NFL’s Deion Sanders, the NBA’s Shaquille O’Neal and MLB’s Justin Verlander to cricket’s Sachin Tendulkar and tennis’ Boris Becker, those influenced by Ali spanned the globe.
BASKETBALL PAYS TRIBUTE
"Muhammad Ali transcended sports with his outsized personality and dedication to civil rights and social justice. He was an inspirational presence at several major NBA events and was deeply admired by so many throughout the league. While we are deeply saddened by his loss, Muhammad Ali's legacy lives on in every athlete who takes a stand for what he or she believes." – @adamsilvernba
Muhammad Ali and I share the same birthday and that alone made me feel I had purpose. Yes, he was a great boxer, the greatest of all but as a courageous humanitarian, that is where his brilliance spoke loudest to me. He made me believe I could become HIM. I could be my own man, use my own voice, stand up for my beliefs AND be respected for what I do on my battle field which is the court. He was strong, proud and vocal… a black man who lead by words and action. Misunderstood and unappreciated for most of his life. Thanks for standing for all but especially your own. It was always my honor to be in his presence and I am a better man for it. #RIPALI
— Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (@kaj33) June 4, 2016
"If my mind can conceive it & my heart can believe it—then I can achieve it." Muhammad Ali taught us all to dream. pic.twitter.com/my6Cdw2p12
— Scottie Pippen (@ScottiePippen) June 4, 2016
Forever the greatest!! #RIPALI
— Kenny Smith (@TheJetOnTNT) June 4, 2016
— Mark Jackson (@MarkJackson13) June 4, 2016
Muhammad Ali was the reason I fell in love with boxing. He was a champion, a showman, he was charismatic…
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) June 4, 2016
FOOTBALL PAYS TRIBUTE
#RIP @muhammadali the Greatest athlete to EVER live! He was 1 of my childhood heroes because of his brashness,articulation,style and CONFIDENCE. There was only 1 athlete that I placed his picture in my weightroom at home. The Picture was of The champ saying "ALL I DID WAS STAND FOR WHAT I BELIEVED". I respected ALI in and out of the ring because he was so much more than a boxer. 1 of the greatest days of my life was when I attended his charity event in Arizona and spent true quality time with the Champ in his suite talking about my faith and his. I stood for what I believed & he did too. Wow it was such a beautiful thing that 2 brothers with different thoughts and convictions but expressing love & respect for one another with Peace & Joy. There will NEVER be another like my HERO MUHAMMAD ALI!!!!!! I'm truly saddened we've lost a REAL MAN that was so much bigger than boxing and was willing to fight the multitudes as well for you and i. #hestood #Hefought #Hesmiled #Hewasreal #Hewastimeless #Truth
"The world has lost a great Champion. Muhammad Ali, lover of human beings, a warrior for the fight against discrimination…a great friend."
— Jim Brown (@JimBrownNFL32) June 4, 2016
Rip Champ you will always be the Goat ❤️😔 pic.twitter.com/kKegCW9Wnf
— Emmitt Smith (@EmmittSmith22) June 4, 2016
The World Lost an incredible man today…#RIP
— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) June 4, 2016
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) June 4, 2016
I met #Ali once. He was a great role model and a great man. Sending my thoughts and prayers to his family tonight.
— Barry Sanders (@BarrySanders) June 4, 2016
BASEBALL PAYS TRIBUTE
Muhammad Ali. The Greatest. Rest in Peace. pic.twitter.com/Rji6KryXeN
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) June 4, 2016
— #VoteCubs (@Cubs) June 4, 2016
Legends never die, they live for eternity pic.twitter.com/jL78JLP6mx
— Noah Syndergaard (@Noahsyndergaard) June 4, 2016
RIP, champ. pic.twitter.com/8itlSvxMTI
— Jason Grilli (@GrillCheese49) June 4, 2016
RIP Muhammad Ali. An inspiration for all! #GOAT 🐐
— Justin Verlander (@JustinVerlander) June 4, 2016
HOCKEY PAYS TRIBUTE
The Greatest…. RIP pic.twitter.com/Ya1pgTpDIe
— Wayne Gretzky (@OfficialGretzky) June 5, 2016
Muhammad Ali, Titan of Boxing and the 20th Century, Dies at 74 https://t.co/TurLrOgxiV
— P.K. Subban (@PKSubban1) June 4, 2016
Sad day. This man was iconic changed so many people's lives @MuhammadAli. The legacy will never die. Rest in peace champ
— Nazem Kadri (@43_Kadri) June 4, 2016
Sad to hear about the passing of Muhammad Ali. Greatest boxer of all time and always fighting to help others.
— Daniel Winnik (@Danwinnik34) June 4, 2016
Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. RIP @MuhammadAli.
— Claude Giroux (@28CGiroux) June 4, 2016
SOCCER PAYS TRIBUTE
"Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”
— Chris Smalling (@ChrisSmalling) June 4, 2016
GOLF PAYS TRIBUTE
You'll always be The Greatest for more than just what you did in the ring. A champion to so many people in so many ways.
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) June 4, 2016
It is an understatement to say that today the hearts of the sports world are heavy with the loss of Muhammad Ali.… https://t.co/p3BdM1Pzf3
— Jack Nicklaus (@jacknicklaus) June 4, 2016
TENNIS PAYS TRIBUTE
I know where I'm going and I know the truth, and I don't have to be what you want me to be. Forever a game changer. #RIPMuhammadAli
— Björn Borg (@bjornborg) June 4, 2016
RIP Champ– you will always "float like a butterfly"!
— Jimmy Connors (@JimmyConnors) June 4, 2016
"Float like a butterfly/sting like a bee "
A GIANT among men #RIPALI
— Boris Becker (@TheBorisBecker) June 4, 2016
In Muhammad Ali, an Example of a Truer Kind of Bravery in Sports, – a truer bravery indeed, a Champ in many ways. https://t.co/JugWqQ3ZOw
— Martina Navratilova (@Martina) June 5, 2016
CRICKET PAYS TRIBUTE
My hero since childhood. I always had a wish to meet you some day but now it will never happen. RIP "The Greatest” pic.twitter.com/Yj6za7GwUe
— sachin tendulkar (@sachin_rt) June 4, 2016
— Dale Steyn (@DaleSteyn62) June 4, 2016
— Rohit Sharma (@ImRo45) June 4, 2016
— Jos Buttler (@josbuttler) June 4, 2016
Shocked to hear about Muhammad Ali's death ! One of the greatest sportsman of all time a legendary boxer , may his soul rest in peace
— yuvraj singh (@YUVSTRONG12) June 4, 2016
— Shikhar Dhawan (@SDhawan25) June 4, 2016
RACING PAYS TRIBUTE
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) June 4, 2016