Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president and one of the world's most beloved and iconic figures, has died at the age of 95. But his inspiration -- born from his fight against apartheid in his home nation -- is far from forgotten, having stretched far beyond the realm of politics, touching most everyone, including many sports luminaries.

"I am deeply saddened by the passing of Mr. Mandela," Muhammad Ali said in a statement, via NBC's Ann Curry. "His was a life filled with purpose and hope; hope for himself, his country and the world. He inspired others to reach for what appeared to be impossible and moved them to break through the barriers that held them hostage mentally, physically, socially and economically."

Countless other athletes and sports organizations took to Twitter to express their feelings about the man known as Madiba:

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