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Laila Ali July

Walking into the pristine, white castle-like mansion in the Hollywood Hills on a hot April day, I have to admit, I was a little nervous. I was about to meet Laila Ali—like the Laila Ali. I grew up with my dad having a framed “Impossible is Nothing” poster of her father, the late Muhammad “The Greatest” Ali iconically standing over Sonny Liston. I was raised on the phrase “impossible is nothing” and so was Laila—crazy. When she humbly introduced herself, I fought the urge to bang on the kitchen countertop and yell, “The champ is here!”

The home where we photographed was absolutely stunning. Provided by The Agency and SPACE, the five bedrooms, sparkling pool and the clear views of the Hollywood sign and Griffith Observatory Park were so quintessential LA. After a full day of shooting, I was ready to move in.

When I was done touring and vigorously posting on my Instagram story with stylist Melissa Souza, it was time to pick Laila’s looks. Souza said she first caught up with our inspirational cover star to talk wardrobe while Laila was on a field trip with her kids: “[That is] something I applaud her for since she’s in the spotlight as a celebrity.” Souza continued to say that even though Laila is in the spotlight, she is very relatable. “Working with her on set, it was easy to see why she’s such a role model; she has amazing drive and passion. The pieces chosen were selected to meld Laila’s active lifestyle with her strong, sexy, girlboss vibe.

Photographer Jeff Farsai said this wasn’t just any other shoot. “I was about to meet and photograph a legendary female athlete, and businesswoman,” Farsai thought while preparing for the day. The entire shoot went seamless as we switched from location to location to show off not only the beauty of the home, but the multiple facets that is Laila—cooking in the kitchen, working out by pool and glamified on the second story balcony. “Laila Ali showed up like a boss and straight took care of business with style and confidence,” Farsai continued. “Her team was rad, her looks were fire and the location was dope! She is hilarious and so fun to work with.” Needless to say, our team killed it and had a blast while doing so. Always a pleasure working with supreme talent!”

Laila’s all-star team, which included celebrity makeup artist Autumn Ingrid Moultrie and powerhouse hair stylist Robbi Rogers, executed flawlessly and had fun while doing it; when I put on Spotify’s ‘90s R&B Throwback playlist on all-around sound throughout the house, dance moves were busted and song lyrics were sung with a reminiscent tone.

Growing up as a female athlete, you yearn for idols to look up, to push you, to inspire you. Laila was that for me then, and now; I may be a former basketball player, but as a woman with a champion-like spirit, Laila Ali is still all those things for me and more. I hope you enjoy her story and it moves you to continue to fight for the things (and people) that are important to you.