Stephen Colbert needed a little help Monday night to pay tribute to boxing legend Muhammad Ali. Luckily, the comedian got an assist from NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Ali died Friday at age 74 after being hospitalized for a respiratory illness. He battled Parkinson's disease for nearly three decades. On Monday's episode of CBS' "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," the first episode since the passing of the sports legend, Colbert recounted the legacy of the heavyweight champion and cultural icon before bringing in Abdul-Jabbar, a lifelong friend of Ali, to add his perspective.
“Nothing sums up the defiant, culture changing spirit of Muhammad Ali like when he said, ‘I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me,’” Colbert said, after playing a video of a 22-year old Ali celebrating his first heavyweight title after beating Sonny Liston in 1964.
Colbert even made time to sneak a Donald Trump joke into the tribute, adding that "[Ali's] type of outrageous bragging paved the way for so many other people of color," showing a picture of the presumptive GOP nominee, whom Colbert frequently jokes is orange.
The comedian brought in Abdul-Jabbar, a six-time NBA champion with the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers, to give the tribute a personal touch.
"Boxing was a big sport for me growing up. I knew the heavyweight champion was someone to be respected. He handled all of that; but on top of that, he handled a whole lot of issues that had nothing to do with sports — civil rights and human rights issues." said Abdul-Jabbar. "His understanding of what integrity was all about was remarkable, and it was an example for us to repeat with our kids and our grandkids because it was the real deal."
Ali’s funeral will be held Friday in Louisville, Kentucky, the hometown of the three-time heavyweight champion. There will be a public procession at 9 a.m. ET, carrying Ali’s coffin through the streets of Louisville, before a memorial service at the KFC Yum! Center.