As the daughter of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, Laila Ali has had some big shoes to fill. Laila talks to Gayle about her childhood and her father, both of which she chronicles in her book, Reach! Finding Strength, Spirit, and Personal Power.
Laila says growing up as one of nine children with a world-famous father had its ups and downs. As a child, Laila saw very little of her dad. "My father is not the greatest father in the world—he is a great fighter and a great man, [but] I don't believe that you can be good at everything," she says. "So I suffered, but so many people gained from him being gone. A lot of the things I went through he wasn't there for, [but] it was normal to me."
Although her father made a successful living as a professional fighter, Laila didn't assume in the beginning that was a career choice for her. "I didn't know women boxed, so it wasn't even an option for me," she says. "I was fighting, but I was on the streets fighting." Eventually, Laila made the transition to the ring.
Laila spent almost eight years boxing before she made the decision to take a break from the sport. Laila wanted the world to see a more feminine, softer side of her and in 2007 joined the fourth season of ABC's Dancing with the Stars. Since then, Laila has also become a contributor to CBS's The Early Show, and in 2008, she joined wrestler Hulk Hogan as co-host of NBC's American Gladiators.
Laila is also making time for motherhood, as she and her husband, former NFL player Curtis Conway, are expecting their first child. As for whether she'll return to the ring, Laila says she hasn't decided. "People misunderstand that I took some time off from boxing, but I did not retire from boxing," she says. "I'm not sure that I'm done yet."
Printed from Oprah.com on Friday, December 13, 2013