Birth Name: Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.
Date of Birth: January 17, 1942
Place of Birth: Louisville, Jefferson, Kentucky, United States
Date of Death: June 3, 2016
Place of Death: Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.
Ethnicity: African-American, small amounts of English, Scottish, and Welsh, distant Swedish
Muhammad Ali was a legendary American professional boxer, activist, and philanthropist. He is considered the greatest heavyweight fighter in the history of the sport. He was nicknamed “The Greatest.”
Muhammad was the son of African-American parents, Odessa Lee (Grady) and Cassius Marcellus Clay. His brother is boxer Rahman Ali. He was a descendant of pre-Civil War era American slaves in the South. He was born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., and he and his father were named after abolitionist Cassius Marcellus Clay. He was given the name Muhammad Ali in the mid 1960s, when he was twenty two, by Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad.
Muhammad was married to Yolanda (“Lonnie”) Williams, until his death. He had at least nine children, including four with his former wife, actress and martial artist Khalilah Ali; a daughter with Aaisha Ali; two with his former wife, actress and model Veronica Porché Ali; and a son with Yolanda.
Muhammad’s maternal great-grandfather, Abe Grady, is often said to have been an Irish emigrant, from County Clare, who moved to Kentucky, but this is evidently incorrect. No Irish-born people named Abe or Abraham Grady appear on any Kentucky censuses. The Abe Grady who was Muhammad’s maternal great-grandfather was almost certainly an African-American man, born in Kentucky.
One of Muhammad’s maternal great-great-grandfathers, Armstead S. Morehead, was white, and had English, Scottish, Welsh, and Swedish ancestry. Through this great-great-grandfather, Muhammad was also descended from Bartholomew Taliaferro, an Italian man who moved to England in the 1500s.
Muhammad’s paternal grandfather was Herman Heaton Clay (the son of John Henry Clay and Sarah “Sallie” Anne Frye/Fry). Herman was born in Kentucky. Sallie was said to have been born in Madagascar.
Muhamma’s paternal grandmother was Edith Edean Greathouse (the daughter of James Montgomery Greathouse and Betsy Jane Alexander). Edith was born in Kentucky. Betsy was the daughter of Wesley John Alexander and Patsy Fry. Wesley was the son of Archer Alexander (c. 1810, Virginia – December 8, 1880, St. Louis, Missouri), a former slave, who was the model for the slave in the Emancipation Memorial located in Lincoln Park. A biography of Archer, The Story of Archer Alexander: From Slavery to Freedom, March 30, 1863, was written by William Greenleaf Eliot, 1885.
Muhammad’s maternal grandfather was named John Lewis/Louis Grady (the son of Abraham “Abe” Grady, and of a woman surnamed Walker). John was born in Kentucky. Muhammad’s great-grandmother was the daughter of Lewis Walker and Amanda “Mandy” J.
Muhammad’s maternal grandmother was Birdie Bell Morehead (the daughter of Thomas/Tom Morehead and Elizabeth “Lizzie” Bibb). Birdie was born in Kentucky. Thomas was the son of Armstead/Amistead S. Morehead and Dinah. Elizabeth was the daughter of Abram Bibb and Rachael Ferguson.
New York Times article about Muhammad’s ancestry, 1980 – http://www.nytimes.com
Muhammad’s paternal great-grandparents, James Montgomery Greathouse and Betsy Jane Alexander, on the 1910 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org
Muhammad’s mother on the 1920 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org
Muhammad’s maternal grandfather, John Lewis/Louis Grady, on the 1900 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org