AT the beginning of the last century, Louis Armstrong, an African- American boy, was born and grew up in a poverty-stricken, broken family in New Orleans, the United States. He was the grandson of a slave.
He spent much of his early years on the streets, worked like a slave and spent time in a reformatory.
He had a passion for music, especially watching the wonderful musicians of that time playing in the streets and in dance halls
It was at the reformatory that Louis' musical talents were discovered and, with the help of some musicians who became his mentors, Louis came to prominence himself in the 1920s as an "inventive" cornet and trumpet player.
The rest of Louis' story is legendary. His influence on the development of jazz is immeasurable, both as a virtuoso trumpet player and as a soloist. With his innovations, he raised the bar musically for all who came after him.
Louis was truly a musician and entertainer par excellence in his lifetime and his legacy lives on.
Almost towards the end of Louis' life, another Armstrong was born. He was Lance Armstrong. He became a famous American professional cyclist, winning the Tour de France title for a record seven consecutive times.
Even more noteworthy are Lance's achievements after having survived testicular cancer.
He was also an Olympic bronze medallist.
However, over the last decade, Lance has been accused of doping by high-profile cyclists, journalists, anti-doping agencies and US prosecutors, culminating in the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) stripping him of his titles.
Lance, to this day, maintains his innocence. He fought the allegations against him through the years, but has now declared that he would no longer appeal against the USADA decision to strip him of his victories and ban him from the sport he gave his life to and excelled in.
Truly one of the greatest sportsmen of our era, such a terrible accusation tarnished Lance's image and legacy.
Another Armstrong, Neil Armstrong, born in Ohio, also made his mark in history.
Neil, an aeronautical engineer, a US Navy fighter pilot, a test pilot for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and an astronaut, commanded the US Apollo 11 spacecraft that made man's first landing on the moon on July 20, 1969, capping the most daring of the 20th century's space expeditions.
Neil's first words after setting foot on the moon's surface are etched in history: "That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind."
Last Saturday, Neil died following complications from a heart surgery.
Neil, one of the great heroes of all times, never allowed himself to be caught up in the glamour of achievements.
He avoided the limelight and after retiring as an astronaut, concentrated on scientific and space research and on teaching.
One of the tributes to Neil said that he would always be remembered for his dedication, hard work and excellence, as well as his reluctance to seek fame and publicity in whatever he did.
Life lessons that these three Armstrongs teach us are:
EVEN from the humblest background and most difficult of circumstances, one can achieve greatness by pursuing one's ambitions, goals and passion through honest, hard work;
NEVER do anything that is dishonest or allows an allegation of dishonesty to be brought against you. It will haunt you for the rest of your life and nullify all your achievements; and,
IN your successes and achievements, however great, be humble rather than seeking the limelight and publicity. You'll be remembered for it all the more.
Rueben Dudley, Petaling Jaya, Selangor Source: New Straits Times Letters to the Editors 30 August 2012