LAS VEGAS Keep Memory Alive’s 16th annual “Power of Love Gala” took to MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday, bringing out some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment to celebrate Muhammad Ali’s 70th birthday and raise funds for the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health and the Muhammad Ali Center. Keep Memory Alive director of special events Anna Robins oversaw the event, with production for the televised portion from Bill Edwards Presents Inc. (the event will air on ESPN2 as the special Ali 70th From Las Vegas February 25) and for the live event from Diversified Production Services. MGM Resorts Events handled the extensive decor.
In keeping with its 16-year history, the gala showcased a big-name-chef-packed dinner with offerings by Tom Colicchio, Scott Conant, Michael Mina, and Wolfgang Puck. Guests sipped bubbly at a Dom Perignon reception and were able to bid on one-of-a-kind live and silent auction items, including the gloves Ali wore to defeat Floyd Patterson in Las Vegas in 1965—which alone went for $1.1 million—and a vacation for two couples on David Copperfield’s private island in the Bahamas. The event's final fund-raising tally is still being calculated.
It was an entertainment-packed evening. Stevie Wonder led the “Happy Birthday” serenade. Boxers Sugar Ray Leonard, Evander Holyfield, and Tommy “Hitman” Hearns joined LL Cool J on stage for “Mama Said Knock You Out.” Snoop Dogg led the crowd in chanting “Ali” during his performance of “Who Am I (What’s My Name)?” Stars like Sean Combs, Samuel L. Jackson, Terrence Howard, and David Beckham gave personal remarks and remembrances. And Lenny Kravitz, Cee Lo Green, and Kelly Rowland performed for Ali and the sold-out crowd of about 2,000.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Muhammad Ali Enterprises, and Keep Memory Alive, the fund-raising arm of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health all lent their support to the gala.