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Michael Phelps Pays Tribute To Muhammad Ali

By Craig Bohnert | June 08, 2016, 1:04 p.m. (ET)

"We lost the "greatest" today...Such an inspiration to many...Me included!!!" - Michael Phelps on Instagram 

On Tuesday Michael Phelps paid tribute to Muhammad Ali and shared how he copes with disappointment during a Facebook Live session.

“I’ve had the privilege to meet Muhammad Ali a few times,” he said. “In 2004 we did a panel – me, Sugar Ray Leonard, Mary Lou Retton and Muhammad Ali. I’ll never forget it. I have a picture of him throwing a punch at me and I remember him saying to me before I went to Athens ‘You’d better win all those medals.’

“He was someone who stood up for what he believed in. Not only was he great for what he did inside the ring, but what he did outside the ring made him who he was. He is someone who will be terribly missed. He was somebody that a lot of athletes looked up to, me included. He was very open-minded and spoke what he wanted to speak. That’s what made him who he was. I was reading an article yesterday of his 30 greatest quotes, if you need some motivation.”

Phelps also expressed disappointment with his performance in Austin last weekend, but he has found a way to make things better: his son, Boomer.

“I went from having a crappy day, and then I picked up Boomer and I held Boomer,” Phelps said. “That was such an awesome, awesome, awesome, awesome feeling, just having him close to me.

“I wake up every day and look at my son, and it’s the greatest feeling you could ever imagine. I’ve talked to a couple of friends of mine who have had kids, and there’s nothing greater than watching them grow up. He’s gained three pounds since he was born and he’s growing so much. I’m excited that after this summer I can be around every single day and watch him grow.”

The most decorated Olympian in history is beginning to target the final step toward his fifth Olympic Games, the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Swimming, which will be held June 26-July 3 in Omaha, Nebraska.

“I’m very excited about trials,” he said. “This my fifth trials with Bob (Bowman, his coach). My birthday is on the 30th, and I’ll be competing in the 200 fly right before I turn 31.”

A fan asked what was the best race he’s ever swam. Phelps’ response was the 200-meter freestyle from the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

“Everything about that race was perfect,” he said. “My stroke was great, my turns were good. I swam it smart, it was awesome.”

While Bowman agreed that was one of Phelps’ best, his personal preference is a toss-up between his student’s 400-meter individual medley races from Athens and Beijing.

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