I want to say something about the passing a Muhammed Ali. When you consider the lives that America has made possible, and aside from the amazing collection of founders. You have a handful of utterly exceptional human beings. And even then you can parse them out and find within the pantheon of their characters flaws. Charles Lindbergh and Henry Ford--racists & anti-semites, for example. And I don't need my heroes to be perfect or free from their cultural context's zeitgeist completely.
But few are as committed to their integrity as was this man. He trained with integrity. He was an athlete with integrity--he approached and defeated his opponents with tremendous skill and brutal honesty. He pursued larger issues around pacifism and racial equality with a depth of integrity that shunned personal privilege or gain. He converted to a new religion on the sole context of being integral to his core values in light of the present culture's mistreatment of people like him in the name of that religion.
I cannot think of another Athlete, American or otherwise, who so exemplified the Ideal of a Role Model for a race, a faith (Islam), or a nation. ONLY, and ironically, does Jackie Robinson come in an onion skill close second. In every way, on every account, America owes this man an apology for persecuting him, and a debt of gratitude for his life of being what it truly means to be an American.