Maryum Ali, affectionately known as May May, was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois and is the eldest child of boxing legend Muhammad Ali’s nine children. As a little girl, her father asked her what she thought her purpose in life was and she replied, “I want to help people.” Maryum’s efforts to help people have manifested in a myriad of ways throughout her life.
She performed as a stand-up comedian for twelve years in venues across the country filling rooms with humor and insightful observations of social issues. As a regular performer at The Comedy Store in Hollywood, she worked alongside talents such as Jim Carey, Chris Rock, and Martin Lawrence. During that same time, she was also writing rap lyrics with plans of publishing her music.
In 1992, May May’s rap album, “The Introduction,” was released by Scottie Brother’s Records. She viewed music as a way to inspire youth to strive for their dreams despite challenges and hardships. But when the rap industry began focusing on music filled with violence and female exploitation, Maryum decided to find a more direct way of helping young people. Hence, she left show business and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. Degree in Social Work. While in college, Maryum worked as a trained Mediator for Clark County Social Services, Neighborhood Justice Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Maryum has 15 years of experience in delinquency prevention and family development and has worked in many capacities in this field; from having direct practice experience with over 300 families to working as a Regional Manager for the Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction & Youth Development in the City of Los Angeles. She is currently seeking private funding for the non-profit organization, DMTL, a gang prevention and youth development program that she co-founded with Nason Buchanan.
Maryum is the author of a children’s picture book about her father titled, I Shook Up the World: The Incredible Life of Muhammad Ali. She is also a spokesperson for Team Parkinson and The Parkinson’s Unity Walk. Over the years, Maryum has appeared on television networks such as, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, ESPN, BBC, AL Jazeera, BBC, FOX, BET, Centric, Lifetime, and the Hallmark Channel.
More recently, A&E Network heard Maryum’s gang prevention work in Los Angeles and invited her to participate in their new docuseries, 60 Days In that premiered in March 2016. On this show, Maryum served 60 days in an Indiana jail as an undercover inmate with the mission of giving the County Sheriff recommendations on ways to reform the jail.