December 2, 2022

Here’s What The Final Days Of Muhammad Ali’s Life Were Like

“Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even,” heavyweight boxing legend Muhammad Ali once declared (via USA Today). The colossal strength and resilience that Ali coveted during his life in and out of the ring spoke for itself. As Britannica reports, the Kentucky-born fighter adorned his iconic career with 56 wins, 37 knockouts, and only five losses. He also competed in the Olympics, triumphed over legal quarrels with the U.S. Supreme Court, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. Few could stand next to the giant who is still remembered to this day as perhaps the greatest boxer of all time. 

Sadly, even the mightiest among us are forced to relinquish a great deal of our strengths as our days start to dim and our time here on earth draws closer and closer to its inevitable end. In 1984, Muhammad Ali was admitted to the care of doctors at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, who regrettably informed him that he’d developed Parkinson’s disease as a result of his boxing career and residual trauma from taking thousands of punches to the head (per PBS). The unfortunate medical verdict spelled out the slow and insidious beginning of the end for Muhammad Ali, and when his final days on earth finally arrived in 2016, his physical state was in total disarray. 

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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.

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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!”

One week after his heartbreaking death, a public memorial service was held at the Yum Center in Louisville, Kentucky, where Ali started boxing at the age of 12. According to Louisville Business First, thousands of admirers attended the three-hour ceremony to pay homage to their hero and one of boxing’s most cherished titans. The champ’s body was also driven through the streets of his home city prior to the service, where bystanders and longtime fans could come out and pay their respects, as CNN reports. Former president Bill Clinton, along with a multitude of other notable personalities, attended Ali’s funeral service at the Yum center as well.