On Saturday, March 23, 2019, stars and athletes from around the country, gathered at the J.W. Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Phoenix, Arizona to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Celebrity Fight Night.
GRAMMY Award winning superstar of country music Reba McEntire returned for her fifteenth year as emcee.
Lonnie Ali introduced this year’s illustrious honorees, and was joined by each of them on stage. Dr. Michael Crow, president of Arizona State, was honored for his unparalleled work as an educator, knowledge enterprise architect, science and technology policy scholar, and higher education leader. Muhammad Ali’s neurologist, Dr. Abe Lieberman was recognized for not only his dedication and achievements professionally, but for his commitment to the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center. More than 40,000 patients received treatment from Dr. Lieberman during his 50 years as a neurologist. Honoree Renee Parsons spoke passionately about the extraordinary philanthropic work that she is involved in, providing life-changing services for those in underserved communities all around the country. Grammy Award-winning producer, musician, composer, and film producer Quincy Jones received the Muhammad Ali Entertainer Award. The legendary artist and longtime friend to Muhammad Ali took time to thank the doctors and researchers in the room, recognizing them as the real heroes. He gave an emotional tribute to his late friend saying that there were “no words” to express the impact that he’s had.
The black tie event featured a cocktail reception, silent auction, elegant dinner and exciting live auction including one-of-a-kind luxury items. The live auction featured dinner with Quincy Jones and David Foster, a week-long trip to a private home in Deer Valley, dinner in Las Vegas with Reba McEntire, a round of golf with Jack Nicklaus on his home course in Jupiter, Florida, and dinners with Billy Crystal, Martin Short, and Jimmy Kimmel, and Andrea Bocelli and his family. The crowd was surprised with an additional auction item – dinner with Buzz Aldrin, who was in attendance at the celebration.
The evening began with a powerful performance by Caroline Campbell and Michael Joseph, followed by an introduction from Reba McEntire who showed a highlight reel of the unforgettable moments from the past 24 years of Celebrity Fight Night. Actress Melissa Peterman took on the role of Musical Director for the evening, introducing each of the stellar artists who came to the stage. The night was packed with amazing performances from Michael W. Smith, Gunnar Gehl, Shari Rowe, Rita Wilson, Angelica Hale, Pia Toscano, Brian McKnight, and a comedy set from Chris Tucker. The evening closed out with headliner and legendary performer Barry Manilow, who had the crowd on their feet singing along to his greatest hits including “Looks Like We Made It,” “Can’t Smile Without You,” “I Made It Through The Rain,” and fan favorite “Copacabana.”
Additional celebrity guests included George Brett, John Corbett, Bo Derek, Larry Fitzgerald, Paul Konerko, Nancy Lieberman, Nick Lowery, Harvey Mackay, Donovan McNabb, John O'Hurley, Chris Rich, Lindsay Wagner, and many more.