Pete DeBoer shares touching story of meeting Ali at prom

Sharks coach Pete DeBoer shared a special story of the time when he met Muhammad Ali during prom night as he and the rest of the world pays tribute to the sports and civil legend.

SAN JOSE, Calif. – There are moments and then there are moments.

We got to experience one before Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final when Sharks coach Pete DeBoer shared an unbelievable story with reporters about meeting Muhammad Ali – the boxing legend who died Friday at age 74.

To set the scene, DeBoer was conducting a typical press availability in the media room at the SAP Center. He had answered questions about all manner of banal topics when he mentioned he had a story to tell. It appears in its entirety here:

“I know that’s the last question, but I just want to end with a quick thing on Muhammad Ali. We lost a great person. The reason I want to speak about him – I’m not a collector of sports memorabilia but I have (four) things in my basement. I’ve got a Wayne Gretzky stick, a Bobby Orr print, a Mike Weir Masters print and I’ve got a Qur’an signed by Muhammad Ali personalized.

“I wouldn’t normally share this with you but I think considering the circumstances today (I should). I got it 30 years ago when I was at my prom at the Royal Connaught Hotel in Hamilton, a 17-year-old kid. I had my tux on, I was in the lobby and Muhammad Ali walked in with his entourage. He was there for some type of appearance. I asked one of the entourage if I could meet him with my friends and he said, ‘Just give me a minute.’

“He came back to me and he said ‘Muhammad Ali is up in this room,’ he goes ‘meet him up in his room in five minutes.’ And me and three or four of my buddies went up to his room. He got out the Qur’an for each of us – he wasn’t preaching or trying to convert us – he just personalized each one to us, asked us some questions about what we were doing.

“It was an unbelievable life experience for me and I think considering the circumstances and how this guy transcended not just boxing and sport, but how many people he’s touched it was an appropriate story to tell.”

Powerful stuff.

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