#InspiredByAli: Boy in Batman shirt revealed, revered
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS 11)--Thousands of people lined the streets to watch 90-plus minute procession for Muhammad Ali June 10, and while many took the opportunity to toss flowers on the passing hearse or simply touch the vehicle itself, one image, that of a young boy shadowboxing alongside Ali as he rolled down Broadway, sparked a wave of emotion around the world.
Like most kids his age, Tyler Beeman, Jr. is full of fun. And like most kids his age, Tyler wants to be just like his heroes.
"Because they save the world from bad guys," he said.
But unlike most kids his age, the world witnessed a young superhero in training.
Tyler, whose name was not known widely at the time, became known as 'The Boy in the Batman Shirt,' after he was seen running alongside the late Muhammad Ali during the procession.
Ali, who passed away earlier this month, had a persona so large, he wanted everyone, even the little ones, to have a small part.
"Seeing him running is who he is," Tyler's mother Sharon Blackburn said, "He said, 'There's the car, I'm going to run,' he took off running; swinging his arms and it was a proud thing to see as a mother."
As a mother of two young children, Blackburn said she wants to see that kind of adoration, especially from her son to the right kind of role model.
"Raising him as a single mother, I worry about having a positive role model as a man in his life," she said, "This is something we will share forever and it's changed our lives."
They are not alone.
There is a sense, though, Tyler won't need his Batman shirt anymore. To many, he's a hero with his own identity.
"The best fun I ever had," he smiled.
All three-and-a-half feet of swift steps and active arms managed to jab their way into the heart of everyone watching.