SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Since the news of boxing legend Muhammad Ali’s passing Friday night, it seems everyone has some story about meeting “The Greatest.” Count San Jose Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer as one of those people.
DeBoer ended his media availability on Saturday ahead of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final with an unprompted story about an interaction with Ali during his high school prom.
Not one with a big sports memorabilia collection, DeBoer said he owns a Wayne Gretzky stick, and prints of Bobby Orr and golfer Mike Weir. He also has one other piece, which is very special and was given to him by Ali: a signed, personalized Quran.
“I got it 30 years ago. I was at my prom in the Royal Connaught Hotel in Hamilton,” DeBoer said. “I was a 17-year-old kid. 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. He said just give me a minute. He came back to me and he said, Muhammad Ali is up in this room. Meet him up in his room in five minutes.
“Me and three or four of my buddies went up to his room. He got out a Quran 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. 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.”
Ali tributes have been flowing since the news broke and it was clear just how much his reach went beyond his sporting accolades.
"For me, it's seeing the legacy that he built for himself, how so many people admired him, respected him, saw him as a great role model," said Pittsburgh Penguins forward Bryan Rust. "It's just one of those things you can learn from. It's sad to have this happen, but it's also a time to celebrate his life."
More Muhammad Ali on Yahoo Sports:
• Muhammad Ali, simply 'The Greatest', dead at 74
• Dan Wetzel: Among legends, Muhammad Ali was 'The Legend'
• Slideshow: Remembering Muhammad Ali
• Sports world reacts to Muhammad Ali's death
• What made Muhammad Ali a hero to so many?
• Here's why the Ravens had a special bond with Muhammad Ali
• Remembering Ali lighting the Olympic torch
• Marlins announce Ali's death before official word came down
• Jim Brown once challenged Ali to a fight and it didn't go well for Brown
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