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    When Hana Ali first listened to the audio tapes her father, Muhammad Ali, gave her — a collection of musings, memories and advice he had recorded — she planned to release them as a series of recordings titled Conversations With the Greatest. But as she discovered new material — boxes of newspaper clippings her grandmother had held on to and letters Ali had sent to Hana’s mother, Veronica Porché Ali — she realized she might have enough material for a memoir. The result is At Home With Muhammad Ali, in which Hana Ali, one of Muhammad’s nine children, offers an intimate portrait of family life with her father through drawings, poems, letters and recordings. She says that her father was flawed (“He wasn’t a faithful husband”) yet “lived his life as an open book.”

    We asked her to reveal a few surprising things from the book about her father.

    “Throughout the recordings, he would get calls from the guards at the gate — we lived in a gated community — and he would say, ‘Send them in.’ He’d go answer the door himself.”

    “The person he was at home was not the same person you saw on television. He was still lively and energetic, but he was quiet. He sat in his office for hours at a time just returning fan mail, having visitors, doing magic tricks.”

    “He loved to entertain people. We would play hide-and-seek and he would pretend to be Dracula. That was a daily occurrence. He would climb into my dollhouses with me. I would wake up in the morning, run down to his office, sit on his lap, and color and draw. He could be on the phone with a head of state, but he would never turn me away.”

    “If my father saw a homeless person, he’d pile them into the backseat — they were coming home with him. They would eat with him. It didn’t matter how they smelled or how they were dressed. Seeing a father do this, we thought this was the way things should be. When we would get an allowance, we’d go looking for homeless people to buy food for. Our father taught us, through his actions, that caring for people, helping people, was a natural part of life.”

    This originally appeared in the August 2019 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.

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