Muhammad Ali, Hank Aaron honored at gala

Sat, Aug 14

LOS ANGELES -- Even a guy like Denzel Washington isn't immune to being a bit star struck.

The Oscar winner is Hollywood royalty, and at the recent Harold Pump Foundation Gala, plenty of people tripped over themselves to pop off a cell phone snapshot of the actor.

As for Washington, who was being honored alongside Muhammad Ali and Hank Aaron? He was fighting the urge not to be tongue-tied over another A-lister.

"Muhammad's the King," Washington exclaimed. "With all these great athletes, he's the king of them all. It's an honor to be honored with him!"

That actually wasn't the only "Oh My God" moment of the night -- there were plenty of Hall of Famers, future Hall of Famers and overall great athletes in attendance who admitted they were a bit googly-eyed at some of the celebrities and athletes in attendance. The event brought out a wide range of athletes, including, Julius Erving, Eddie Murray, Sugar Ray Leonard, Robert Horry, Lisa Leslie, Deion Sanders, Brian McKnight, Cedric the Entertainer, Warren Moon and Gary Payton.

"I came here for Hank Aaron. I'm a big baseball fan. Just to be in the room with Hank is an honor. I usually don't go anywhere and take pictures, but this is the first time I'm going to be a groupie and take a picture," Horry said. "I only had one 'Oh My God' moment before now and that was when I got to meet Oprah. She's such an icon. And to meet an icon on a playing field like Hank Aaron -- he opened so many doors for black athletes and to pay homage to him and say thank-you."

And as for the event itself, Payton said it was one that everyone in attendance would look back on and be grateful.

"These three guys that we're honoring today are great legends. We're going to remember them for the rest of our lives," he said. "When we're gone, and they're gone, we're going to remember them. This is history. I can't believe I'm here to witness this."