Do you consider yourself a fighter? I’ve always considered myself one. For most of my life every time I got knocked down, I got right back up, stronger than ever. But now that I look back, I got up because God’s righteous right hand pulled me up.

God has always used unique ways to bless me and help me through the valleys, because I’ve been fighting since I was a little girl. To God’s credit, He never let me forsake my dreams–and folks, God would go to extraordinary measures to ensure that I’d stay on the right path. Once he even sent Muhammad Ali to embrace me. Yes, that’s me and The Champ in that photo.

I was an on-air promotion video writer/producer for a local Los Angeles television channel. Being the only Black in a production position got a little rough for me at times. I stayed in trouble, always angered someone, and the harassment at times was unbearable. I was always fighting. Then one day I’d had it.

My promotion production was to start promptly at 6 a.m., but by 7:30 a.m. the director had not shown.

By 9 a.m., we were still in production and the program director berated and blasted me ad nauseam in front of the crew. I tried to defend myself and was hoping one of the four crew members would speak up. No one did, so I just broke down and cried like a baby. I was tired, angry and sick of the double standards. I was an award-winning producer being treated like crap, as usual.

Suddenly, there was a persistent tap on the studio window. We all turned and looked and there was The Champ, Muhammad Ali, with his full face in that tiny window. Then his hand covered his face as he beaconed me to come outside. The shock and surprise at seeing him stopped my heaving sobs, and I walked into the embrace of the strongest, most powerful arms that I have ever felt around me in my life.

He told me to never let any man break me down like that and he said if I ever needed him to handle anything for me all I had to do was call him. And just then a photographer walked by and snapped the picture you see. He also gave me his number, and I was put on his guest list and at every event or gathering he had at his home I was invited.

Muhammad Ali reached out to me to let me know that I not only mattered, but I mattered to him. That’s a God lesson. But I had a hard head, and an even harder heart. So God had to pull out a lot more miracles to reach me. When I think back, I’m amazed at the people who have graced my life. But it didn’t stick until now.

I’m still here for a reason. And I believe God loves me so much that He is not willing to let me throw my life away, because I lost my will to fight. He put me in a fighting situation. He took everything from me, put enemies on my left and right, people hating me and wanting to harm me just because they could.

I can’t even begin to tell you what happened to my career, friendships, and living situations before I hit rock bottom, before I became homeless.

But guess what folks? I’ve got my fighting spirit back, because when I stand, I know I’m not alone.

When I was in my car, cold and alone I’d think that God’s arms were comforting me, and yeah, you guessed it, His arms were the arms of Muhammad Ali. You see, God knew I would never have an earthly father to comfort me, or a loving man’s arms in whom I could trust. But He gave me The Champ’s arms to always remember what it felt like to have a loving embrace that could last a lifetime.

Next week will be my final article on homelessness.