First Person: Laila Ali Reflects on Being the Daughter of The Greatest
Laila and Muhammad Ali at Muhammad Ali Center on Oct. 2, 2013 (Michael Hickey/Getty Images for HBO)
So many wonderful memories come to mind when I think of my childhood with my father. I remember him at home in his office, sitting behind his desk. He would always have the fireplace blazing and a cup of creamy coffee in hand with two packs of sweetener at his side.
My father loved to entertain. Although we lived in a gated community, you would think our home was a public venue, because my father let everybody in. He loved having people around him. The television was always on the news channel while he told jokes, did magic tricks, and took photos with his fans.
My dad truly was and will always be "the people's champ." He has always lived his life to make others happy — not just the people in his circle, but all people. I can remember my father going out of his way to put a smile on complete strangers' faces.
He would pile a few of my sisters and me into the backseat of his chocolate-brown Rolls-Royce and take the top down, and we would ride down the boulevard. Onlookers would point and yell out, "Hey, Champ!" Often, my father would pull over and give $100 bills to homeless people he saw on the streets along the way. We would frequent the local diner, and of course it wouldn't take long before a crowd formed around us. Everywhere we went, my father put on a show because he loved the attention and has always gotten joy from making people feel good.
As a kid growing up, being delayed for hours by fans was annoying, because I was young and didn't know any better. In retrospect as an adult, I learned so much by watching my father interact with people. Muhammad Ali is a global icon and one of the most beloved men in the world. However, in his eyes it didn't matter if he was standing face-to-face with a powerful billionaire or a trash man; my dad treated everyone with respect and kindness.
As a child, I was able to witness how a human being can be successful, powerful, and wealthy, and still have faith in God, have integrity, and be kind to others. Most of all, being Muhammad Ali's daughter has taught me all the values and morals that I now believe in and pass on to my own children.
Laila reveals the secret behind one of her father's tricks to Arsenio:
"All In With Laila Ali" airs on CBS (check your local listings).