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Odessa Grady Clay
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Celebrity's Relative
    (November 12, 1917-August 20, 1994)
    Born in Hopkins County, Kentucky
    Mother of Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. - aka Muhammad Ali
    Appeared as herself in the film documentaries 'Muhammad Ali: The Whole Story (1996)' and 'When We Were Kings (1996)'
    Died of heart failure in Louisville at age 77
    She dropped out of high school to become a domestic.
    She married her husband at age 16.
    Even though her husband was a heavy drinker and womanizer who would occasionally smack her around, she stayed with him for 57 years until his 1990 death.
    Besides Cassius, she named her other son Rudolph Valentino Clay.
    Her paternal grandfather (Irishman Abe Grady) was white, and her maternal grandfather was the offspring of a slave owner and a slave, something that never sat well with Ali.
    Ali once explained to a racially mixed audience, 'My white blood came from the slave masters, from raping. The white blood harms us, it hurts us. When we was darker, we was stronger. We was purer.'
    She was dead for two years when the documentaries of Ali featuring her were released.
    She grew up in the segregated South and experienced more than her fair share of racial bigotry.
    When Ali was a teen he once stretched his arms out and accidentially knocked a tooth out of her mouth.
    Though her husband was indifferent, she would encourage Ali to pursue his dream of boxing.
    Ali's nickname for her was Bird.
    Keeping a boxing family background, her other son, who changed his name to Rahman Ali when he converted to Islam, was also a boxer, as well as her granddaughter Laila Ali.
    She suffered a stroke in February 1994 from which she never fully recovered.
    Ali said of his mother, 'She taught us to love people and treat everybody with kindness. She taught us it was wrong to be prejudiced or hate...she's a sweet, fat, wonderful woman, who loves to cook, eat, make clothes, and be with family. She doesn't drink, smoke, meddle in other people's business, or bother anyone, and there's no one who's been better to me my whole life.'

Credit: Scar Tactics


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