- Created on 19 September 2013
AP Photo/The Tampa Bay Times, Will Vragovic
CHICAGO (AP) — Earvin "Magic" Johnson is getting a little help from Chicago rapper Common for his newest off-court endeavor.
The former NBA star launched his "Friends of Magic" initiative Wednesday. The idea is to help at-risk students, including dropouts, graduate from high school.
Johnson, Common and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn attended the event at Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy in Chicago, an education facility backed in part by Johnson's business enterprises.
An emotional Johnson spoke after listening to one of the students who has had success in the academy's education programs.
Wiping away tears, Johnson said he's trying to give back and felt gratified by his organization's work. Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy contracts with Chicago Public Schools to help dropouts.
Common is a Grammy-winning artist and actor.
- Created on 19 September 2013
He was the second man to beat Muhammad Ali, breaking Ali’s jaw and sending him to the hospital in their 1973 heavyweight fight.
Ken Norton frustrated Ali three times in all, including their final bout at Yankee Stadium where he was sure he had beaten him once again.
Norton, who died Wednesday at the age of 70, lost that fight for the heavyweight title. But he was forever linked to Ali for the 39 rounds they fought over three fights, with very little separating one man from the other in the ring.
“Kenny was a good, good fighter. He beat a lot of guys,” said Ed Schuyler Jr., who covered many of Norton’s fights for The Associated Press. “He gave Ali fits because Ali let him fight coming forward instead of making him back up.”
Norton is the only heavyweight champion never to win the title in the ring, and boxing fans still talk about the bruising battle he waged with Larry Holmes for the title in 1978. But it was his first fight with Ali that made the former Marine a big name and the two fights that followed that were his real legacy.
Few gave Norton, who possessed a muscular, sculpted body, much of a chance against Ali in their first meeting, held at the Sports Arena in San Diego, where Norton lived. But his awkward style and close-in pressing tactics confused Ali, who fought in pain after his jaw was broken.
“Ali tore up his ankle while training and we were going to call the fight off but didn’t,” former Ali business manager Gene Kilroy said. “Ali said it’s not going to be that tough.”
It was, with Norton breaking Ali’s jaw in the early rounds and having his way with the former champion for much of the night. The loss was even more shocking because Ali had only lost to Joe Frazier in their 1971 showdown and was campaigning for the title he would win again the next year against George Foreman in Zaire.
“Norton was unorthodox,” Kilroy said. “Instead of jabbing from above like most fighters he would put his hand down and jab up at Ali.”
Kilroy said after the fight Norton visited Ali at the hospital where he was getting his broken jaw wired. Ali, he said, told him he was a great fighter and he never wanted to fight him again.
Ken Norton Jr., a coach with the Seattle Seahawks, confirmed his father’s death to The Associated Press before handing the phone to his wife, too distraught to talk.
Norton had been in poor health for the last several years after suffering a series of strokes, Kilroy said.
“He’s been fighting the battle for two years,” he said. “I’m sure he’s in heaven now with all the great fighters. I’d like to hear that conversation.”
Norton didn’t have long to celebrate his big win over Ali. They fought six months later, and Ali won a split decision.
They met for a third time on Sept. 28, 1976, at Yankee Stadium and Ali narrowly won to keep his heavyweight title.
Norton would come back the next year to win a heavyweight title eliminator and was declared champion by the World Boxing Council when Leon Spinks decided to fight Ali in a rematch instead of facing his mandatory challenger. But on June 9, 1978, he lost a brutal 15-round fight to Holmes in what many regard as one of boxing’s epic heavyweight bouts and would never be champion again.
Norton finished with a record of 42-7-1 and 33 knockouts. He would later embark on an acting career, appearing in several movies, and was a commentator at fights.
Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, who visited Norton at the veteran’s hospital in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, tweeted: “Ken Norton was always nice to me even when I was just an amateur fighter. He always treated me like I was somebody. Remarkable man.”
Ken Norton Jr. was a linebacker for 13 years in the NFL, playing for Dallas and San Francisco, and coaches the position for the Seahawks. He and his father were estranged for a time in the 1990s before finally reconciling.
Norton always gave his father credit for his career, saying he learned how to train hard by watching him go for early morning runs when he was a child.
“It’s been noted that my father and I are on speaking terms and everything’s back together now,” Norton Jr. said in 1995. “It’s part of what I do. No matter what I do, I can’t get away from boxing.”
Norton, born Aug. 9, 1943, in Jacksonville, Ill., started boxing when he was in the Marines, and began his pro career after his release from duty in 1967. He lost only once in his early fights but had fought few fighters of any note when he was selected to meet Ali.
At the time, Ali was campaigning to try to win back the heavyweight crown he lost to Joe Frazier in 1973.
After that bruising first bout, they faced off two more times, including the final fight at Yankee Stadium on a night when police were on strike and many in the crowd feared for their safety. The fight went 15 rounds and Ali won a decision.
Kilroy said Ali and Norton never had any animosity toward each other and became good friends over the years. Still, Norton always thought he had won all three fights.
Norton would come back in 1977 to win an eliminator against Jimmy Young and was declared champion by the WBC when Spinks was stripped of the title.
His fight against Holmes in 1978 at Caesars Palace was his last big hurrah, with the two heavyweights going back and forth, trading huge blows inside a steamy pavilion in the hotel’s back lot. The fight was still up for grabs in the 15th round and both fighters reached inside themselves to deliver one of the more memorable final rounds in heavyweight history.
When the decision was announced, two ringside judges favored Holmes by one point while the third favored Norton by a point.
Norton was badly injured in a near fatal car accident in 1986. He recovered but never regained his full physical mobility.
“The doctors said I would never walk or talk,” Norton said at an autograph session in 2011 in Las Vegas, lifting his trademark fedora to show long surgical scars on his bald head.
Kilroy said Norton was visited at the hospital by former fighters, including Tyson, Earnie Shavers and Thomas Hearns.
Norton fought only five more times after losing his title to Holmes. His final fight came Nov. 5, 1981, when he was knocked out in the first round by Gerry Cooney at Madison Square Garden.
Information on services and other survivors was not immediately released by the family.
- Created on 18 September 2013
Chicago Blackhawks right wing Ben Smith, left, and right wing Jimmy Hayes (22) celebrate Smith's goal as Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall watches during the second period of an NHL preseason hockey game Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
CHICAGO (AP) — Patrick Sharp and Ben Smith scored 1:09 apart late in the second period, Corey Crawford made 19 saves, and the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks opened the preseason with a 2-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night.
Crawford, who played every minute of Chicago's playoff run, stayed in for the entire game.
Detroit's Jonas Gustavsson, expected to back up Jimmy Howard this season, stopped 21 of 23 shots in two periods. Jared Coreau turned aside all 11 Chicago shots in the third.
Chicago's lineup included 14 members of the championship team, but captain Jonathan Toews sat out (lower body).
Red Wings forward Johan Franzen had been scheduled to play on a line with newcomers Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss, but missed the game due to a sore hip flexor.
Sharp opened the scoring with 3:23 left in the second on a quick wrist shot from the slot. Smith made it 2-0 on a deflection of Jimmy Hayes' long shot.
- Created on 16 September 2013
SAN DIEGO (AP) — LeBron James has another ring.
The Miami Heat star married Savannah Brinson at the posh Grand Del Mar Hotel in San Diego on Saturday, according to two people familiar with the details of the ceremony.
About 200 guests were present for the ceremony, said one of the people, both of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because the wedding was private and the couple had yet to release any details. The ceremony was the highlight of a three-day celebration that will conclude with a brunch on Sunday.
James and Brinson, 27, have been together since high school and have two sons. James, 28, proposed just after midnight on Jan. 1, 2012 in Miami Beach, flanked then by many of his teammates – just as he was again Saturday night for his wedding.
Intense security measures surrounded the wedding, and even some of the invited guests were unclear on some specific details in the days leading up to the long-awaited event that came less than three months after James and the Heat won their second straight NBA title.
Guests were ushered into the wedding areas under the cover of tents, and television footage taken by news helicopters showed that even umbrellas were used to protect the identity of those arriving. Heat owner Micky Arison, coach Erik Spoelstra and many of James’ teammates including Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were on the guest list.
And while some with ties to James, such as Wade and his actress girlfriend Gabrielle Union, tweeted that they were in the San Diego area for a wedding, none released any details Saturday night – since one of the many rules of the wedding was believed to be that no phones would be allowed.
Brinson spoke briefly with AP about the wedding last spring, saying she was both excited and nervous. James has only discussed the wedding in general terms, once describing his role as only to ensure “that Savannah gets whatever she wants on her day, the wedding day she always dreamed of.”
James, a four-time NBA Most Valuable Player, and the Heat will open training camp next month. In June, they outlasted the San Antonio Spurs in seven games to capture the championship.