'Goodbye My Friend': World Leaders, Celebrities & Athletes Pay Tribute to Muhammad Ali on Social Media - NBC New York

'Goodbye My Friend': World Leaders, Celebrities & Athletes Pay Tribute to Muhammad Ali on Social Media

"We are losing all of our National Treasures. Our Pillars of Humanity. He was the Greatest!" Madonna wrote

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    'Goodbye My Friend': World Leaders, Celebrities & Athletes Pay Tribute to Muhammad Ali on Social Media
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    In this file photo, Muhammed Ali, Jesse Jackson and Jay-Z attend the 58th NBA All-Star Game, part of 2009 NBA All-Star Weekend at US Airways Center on February 15, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. Celebrities, politicians and athletes paid tribute to the man who famously proclaimed himself "The Greatest."

    The world lost famed boxing legend and civil rights champion Muhammad Ali, who died Friday evening after being hospitalized earlier this week for respiratory complications. 

    President Barack Obama, who keeps a pair of boxing gloves worn by Muhammad Ali in his private study off the Oval Office, said Saturday that Ali "shook up the world and the world is better for it."

    Obama likened Ali to other civil rights leaders of his era, and said the boxer stood with Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela in fighting for what was right.

    "He wasn't perfect, of course. For all his magic in the ring, he could be careless with his words, and full of contradictions as his faith evolved," Obama said in a statement with first lady Michelle Obama. "But his wonderful, infectious, even innocent spirit ultimately won him more fans than foes — maybe because in him, we hoped to see something of ourselves."

    Former President Bill Clinton paid an emotional tribute to Ali on social media, tweeting, "Goodbye my friend. You were Great in so many ways." 

    As news quickly spread of Ali’s death, athletes, celebrities and politicians made their way to social media to grieve and pay tribute to the man who famously proclaimed himself "The Greatest."

    Paul McCartney wrote a heartfelt letter to Ali on his website, recalling the first time The Beatles met the "beautiful, gentle man" in Miami.

    Madonna posted an undated throwback photo with Ali on Instagram, writing, "What is going on??!! We are losing all of our National Treasures. Our Pillars of Humanity. He was the Greatest!"

    Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr. praised the global figure who "sacrificed his career, fame, and money — risked the most — for his beliefs." Actor Harry Shearer called Ali's courage "as towering as his game." Music mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs revealed a tatoo of Ali's signature on his chest, writing "I told him I wanted [his signature] to be tattooed on me is in the mind of greatness."