Growing up in Philadelphia as an aspiring amateur boxer, Ravens linebacker Jameel McClain found a mentor in the city's boxing champion, "Smokin" Joe Frazier. McClain, who was 6-1 as a boxer while competing in area Golden Gloves tournaments, was given his first pair of boxing trunks by Frazier.
That's why Monday's news that Frazier had died at age 67 after a short bout with liver cancer hit McClain hard.
"It's bad news for the world, but [especially] for Philly," McClain said. "Philly needed a hero. Everybody needed somebody to look at, and Joe Frazier was that guy. He was somebody that fought through all the odds. He was the true definition of what people thought an underdog was but he was always at the top of his game. Looking at what Joe did, how he fought against the odds day-in and day-out and still had the success that he did, that's definitely given me some motivation."
McClain said he met Frazier on several occasions, but hadn't spoken to the legendary boxing champion in years.
"I'll hold on to the memories," McClain said. "He'll be missed, and it's unfortunate for his family."