Listen: Laila Ali Remembers Her Father Muhammad Ali's Legacy One Year After His Death

“My father. no matter where he would go, he would just bring people to tears," the professional boxer, author, and TV personality told ESSENCE. 

On June 4, 2016, the death of boxing legend Muhammad Ali shock the world.  Now, a year after the professional boxer and civil rights activist died after battling Parkinson's disease for more than a decade, Laila Ali celebrates the life and legacy of her father. 

The fellow boxer, author and television personality is one of nine children of the late boxer. Her reflection of her father’s legacy is that he was someone “who really stayed true to himself” and “believed” in what he stood for. 

RELATED: Laila Ali Honors Her Dad Muhammad In Forthcoming Cookbook, Shares What They Had In Common In the Kitchen

While Ali said that she appreciated the arousing support from across the nation and beyond, it didn’t surprise her. 

“My father, no matter where he would go, he would bring people to tears … so I wasn’t really surprised by the outpouring that there was when he passed away. But it was appreciated that people cared so much,” Ali told ESSENCE.

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The 39-year-old mother also opened up about how her career in the boxing profession opened up her father’s eyes when it comes to women being professional boxers. 

“When I first started boxing, I reflect on the conversations that I had with him when he wasn’t too happy about my decision to start boxing. And didn’t really even feel that women should be fighting in the first place … [but] I remember having another conversation when he changed his mind and said 'women can fight and you've shown me that,'" Ali continued. 

RELATED: Muhammad Ali's Son Detained At Airport For A Second Time

One of the most recent ways that Ali is continuing to share her father’s legacy is through her debut cookbook, Food for Life: Delicious & Healthy Comfort Food From My Table To Yours!

The book, which is slated to publish in January, offers over 100 recipes of real-life recipes such as Stovetop Ratatouille, Oven-"Fried" Chicken, West Coast Southern Greens and Heavenly Lemon Yogurt Cake.

"My father and I both have always had a love affair with tasty homemade meals and comfort foods. Another thing my father loved was a great burger at some of the local burger joints he encountered during his worldwide travels. So when my dad was still alive and well, to surprise him during one of my trips to visit him in Arizona, I shared with him that I named one of his favorite burgers after him. It's called 'The Ali Burger,” Ali said. 

SHOW TRANSCRIPT

Really did go by quickly. I look up, wow, it's a year already. My father no matter where he would go he would just bring people to tears just being in his presence. I wasn't really surprised by the outpouring that there was when he passed away but it was appreciated that people cared so much. My father really love his children. And I just remember all of my sisters and brothers come in town, he would love just get us all together. Pile all of us in the car, go to the local diner. We stuck there for like three Here for hours, because we'd be signing autographs and doing magic tricks and things like that, but he just loves people. So, you know, I just remember things like that. And, of course, when I first started boxing, I reflect on the conversations that I had with him. When he wasn't too happy about my decision to start boxing. And didn't really even feel that women should be fighting in the first place, and then I remember again, having another conversation with him where he actually changed his mind and said, women can fight and you've shown me that. So I changed his mind about that, which was really powerful to me, in just in the way that he looked at me and the way he looked at women. So I think about those conversations that we had and I cherish them. When I look at my father I just see someone who really stayed true to himself and lived his life to the fullest as far as doing what he was here on this Earth to do. He believed in himself and that's how it all started. That's what really stands out to me about my father. I just wish that everybody could find that thing in them. They don't have to be Muhammad Ali. But, just not being afraid to tap into the greatness inside of you.
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