Gene Kilroy was recently honored with the CMX Friendship Award, presented by Las Vegas-based CMX Sports and Entertainment.
It was most fitting that May May Ali, daughter of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, made the presentation.
"Gene Kilroy is like family to me," May May Ali said. "Of all the people who have worked with my family, he has been the most loyal. You don’t find a lot of people like Gene Kilroy."
Indeed, Kilroy has been a guiding figure for the Ali family. For nearly two decades Kilroy was Ali’s personal business manager, but he was actually much more.
Kilroy was a friend and confidante of the world champion, and his relationship served as a springboard into many other areas and relationships.
For Kilroy, 61, who works as a player development executive in Las Vegas, working with Ali was the experience of a lifetime, adding that Ali’s compassion for people would never be lost on him, giving him a new perspective on personal relationships.
"I was blessed to be around the people that Ali loved and admired," Kilroy said. "I was a white man who was accepted by him and the honorable Elijah Muhammad. Ali was voted the most recognizable man on the planet earth, but he always has time for the poor, the powerless and the less deprived."
Kilroy added that his time with Ali is something he will always cherish.
"I was a blessed man," he said. "Being with him and even if I died and went to heaven, it would be a step down from being around Ali.
"The irony is if Ali hadn’t accepted the Islamic religion, no one would have ever heard of him. He wouldn’t be as famous."
Kilroy said the moral compass of the world would go in a different direction if people would follow Ali’s lead. "Society would be a better place," he said.
Over the years, Ali’s compassion has not been lost on Kilroy, who remains a popular figure throughout the sports and entertainment world, where he has forged hundreds of relationships because of his close ties with Ali.
For instance, Kilroy has a strong friendship that spans more than 20 years with football Hall of Famer Jim Brown. He also has a father-son relationship with Lakers star Karl Malone, as well as other personal relationships with leading sports figures.