Muhammad Ali was unable to attend the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation annual Aspire awards event in Baltimore because he could not travel after undergoing a recent undisclosed surgery.
Ali and Under Armour founder Kevin Plank were honored Friday night by the Ripken Foundation for their humanitarian efforts. Ali's wife, Lonnie, accepted in his absence.
"Sharing a stage with Muhammad Ali is probably about as high as an honor gets,” Plank said.
Ali's brother, Rahman, gave interviews earlier this year saying that the former heavyweight champion was near death, but Lonnie Ali and Ali's daughter Laila refuted those claims.
“We'd much rather have him here,” Ripken said Friday night, recalling a visit the boxing champion made to athletic fields the foundation built. “It's not going to dampen the night, because still, his legacy, his legend, his aura will be with us.”
Ali and his wife received their Aspire award for working with soup kitchens, hospitals and the Special Olympics. Plank and Under Armour were honored for efforts to battle breast cancer, empower veterans and promote environmentally friendly business.