Muhammad Ali, a legendary heavyweight boxer, famously said: “Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the depths of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even” (via USA Today). The enormous fortitude and tenacity that Ali coveted both inside and outside the ring spoke for itself. According to Britannica, the boxer, who was born in Kentucky, had a legendary career that included 56 victories, 37 knockouts, and just five defeats.
Along with competing in the Olympics, he prevailed in legal disputes with the US Supreme Court and in 2005 received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Few could match the size of the giant, who is still regarded as possibly the greatest fighter in history.
Unfortunately, even the strongest among us must give up a lot of our abilities as our days become shorter and our time on earth approaches its ultimate end. Muhammad Ali was hospitalized to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in 1984, when the medical staff informed him, sadly, that he had Parkinson’s disease as a result of his boxing career and lingering effects from taking hundreds of blows to the head (per PBS).
Muhammad Ali’s poor medical prognosis foretold his slow and sneaky demise, and by the time his final days on earth arrived in 2016, his physical condition was in shambles.
He Couldn’T Speak During His Final Days
According to USA Today, Muhammad Ali was admitted to HonorHealth Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center in Scottsdale, Arizona, just a few days before his death. He’d reportedly grown unexpectedly ill and had to be rushed to the hospital on Monday, May 30, 2016, though there was virtually nothing doctors could do to ward off the sickness that ultimately took his life on June 3, which was the Friday of that week (via The Arizona Republic). During the short span of years leading up to his final hospitalization and tragic death, Ali grew repeatedly ill and often required emergency medical attention. It was on that day in 2016 that septic shock set in and pressed him to the threshold one last time. He sadly didn’t bounce back.
Ali’s daughters Laila and Hana told Veronica Porsche — their mother and his wife from 1977 to 1986 — that shortly before arriving at the medical facility in Scottsdale, he had completely lost his ability to speak and communicate. Sadly, he wouldn’t regain it. “It’s very emotional,” Porsche shared with inquirers after his death (via USA Today). “I was with him for 12 years of my life. He was the love of my life. I’ve never loved anyone as much as I loved him. I would have thrown myself in front of bullets for him back then.” Due to violent tremors brought on by his ever-worsening Parkinson’s, he was entirely unable to even sign his name throughout the final year of his life.
Ali Died With His Family By His Side
There’s nothing alluring about the unavoidable reality of dying, but most of us can agree that departing this world with those we love most standing close by is as good a way to go as any. According to CNN, all nine of the three-time heavyweight champion’s children attended him during his final 24 hours of life and were afforded the chance to say goodbye. “All of us were around him hugging and kissing him and holding his hands, chanting his Islamic prayer,” Muhammad Ali’s his daughter Hana Ali shared in a Twitter post shortly after his passing. “All of his organs failed but his HEART wouldn’t stop beating … his heart just kept beating. No one had ever seen anything like it. A true testament to the strength of his Spirit and Will!”
A public memorial service was conducted at the Yum Center in Louisville, Kentucky, where Ali began boxing at the age of 12, one week after his devastating passing. Numerous admirers came to honor their hero and one of boxing’s most revered titans during the three-hour celebration, according to Louisville Business First. Prior to the service, the champion’s body was also carried through the streets of his hometown, allowing passersby and devoted supporters to pay their condolences, according to CNN. In addition to a host of other well-known figures, Bill Clinton also attended Ali’s memorial service at the Yum Center.