Olympic gold-medal boxer Howard Davis Jr. came home to Glen Cove Tuesday, accepting government proclamations in his honor and a gift of the city flag while on a trip to raise money to help him and others fight cancer.
Davis, 59, who now lives in South Florida, was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in February.
He spoke first outside the Glen Cove Housing Authority apartment complex where he grew up, on a street that the city in 2009 dedicated to him and in front of a mural that depicts him and his late father and trainer, Howard Davis Sr.
Tuesday was his first visit to Glen Cove since the 2009 dedication ceremony.
Old friends and neighbors embraced him. Some, like Craig Gibson, 52, had tears in their eyes.
Gibson went on 4:30 a.m. runs with Davis in the hills of Glen Cove when Davis was a teenager and young man, and later, when Davis became a professional boxer, Gibson trained him.
Finding out that his friend has cancer "came in like a ton of bricks," said Gibson, his voice breaking.
Davis told of how cancer has sapped his strength and robbed him of much of his muscle.
"My arms are like bones," he said. "My chest is completely gone."
At times, he had to stop to cough -- another persistent effect of the cancer, Davis said.
Several months ago, Davis established the Howard Davis Jr. Foundation to promote alternative cancer treatments and help him and others pay for them. A comedy fundraiser for the foundation is set for 8 Wednesday night at The Space at Westbury.
"This is a really big deal for me to be back home," Davis said in an interview. "This is where I was born and raised. Glen Cove shaped me."
Today, his legacy is shaping countless young people in Glen Cove, said Frank Pena, 63, who runs the city-sponsored Glen Cove Boxing Club.
"Everything I learned, I learned from him and his father," said Pena, who trained under the elder Davis.
After Davis left his old neighborhood, he went to City Hall for a reception in his honor.
Most of the 50 or so faces there were unfamiliar, but he told them: "You're from Glen Cove, so you're like family to me."