LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Muhammad Ali’s spirit fittingly floated like a butterfly over Louisville’s bid to beat second-ranked Florida State.
Saturday’s Atlantic Coast Conference showdown between the No. 10 Cardinals and Seminoles featured reminders of and tributes to the late heavyweight champion and Louisville native, who died June 3 at age 74. Louisville’s shiny red chrome helmets featured a white butterfly sticker on the back with the “Ali” in the middle, and a 30-foot painting with the same design was displayed in the northwest corner of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium end zone.
A presentation was made honoring Ali’s legacy with his wife Lonnie and son Asaad, a former Louisville baseball player, among the sellout crowd. Ali and his family frequently visited Cardinals games and donated to the athletic program.
Ali’s daughter Laila, a former champ herself, also made her presence felt as the celebrity picker for ESPN’s pregame show. Wearing a shirt with her famous father’s face on it, there was no doubt about her loyalties. ESPN analyst and former Louisville coach Lee Corso then brought a huge cheer with his pick as he donned the large Cardinal mascot head.
The tributes and appearances by Ali’s family added to an already-energized atmosphere as the unbeaten teams clashed for Atlantic Division supremacy.
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