Arthur Ashe remembered

Arthur Ashe, a man who touched millions of lives on and off the court, died Saturday from pneumonia, a complication caused by the AIDS virus.

Throughout his career, Ashe broke down racial barriers and accomplished great feats on the tennis court, including being the first black man to win Wimbledon (1975) and the U.S. Open (1968). He continued to fight battles off the court after his tennis career.

His efforts then became focused on causes such as the American Heart Association and the United Negro College Fund. Ashe also contributed to the fight against South Africa’s apartheid policies. Thanks, in part, to Ashe’s efforts to combat discrimination, South Africa was banned from the Davis Cup in 1970.

Ashe publicly announced last April that he had contracted the AIDS virus through a blood transfusion. Unfortunately, he had been pushed into making the announcement after a USA Today reporter threatened to make the news public first.

Despite the unprofessional and disrespectful manner in which Ashe had been forced to reveal his condition, he showed his humanitarianism and dignity once again by not only fighting against the disease for himself, but also for the millions of other people afflicted by it.

He established the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS Inc., and he joined the boards of the UCLA AIDS Institute and the Harvard AIDS Institute.

Ashe is an example of a man who used his abilities to make a positive impact not only on the African-American community, but on the nation as a whole.