Muhammad Ali’s Long Battle With Parkinson’s Disease
Muhammad Ali won many battles in the boxing ring. His battle with Parkinson’s Disease ended on June 3, 2016 after fighting Parkinsons for thirty two years. He bravely waged a public battle against the disease when he discovered he had the disease at the young age of forty two. Facing cameras over and over again, Ali played a crucial role in raising awareness of Parkinson’s disease.
Ali was a man of showmanship. You would think he would have hidden in the shadows when he discovered he had Parkinson’s Disease. Many described him as a shell of the man he once was. In true Ali fashion, nothing could stop him. In 1996, The Great Muhammad Ali was responsible for one of the greatest moments in Olympic history. He lit the Olympic cauldron. The stunned crowd roared as Ali, bravely managed to light the wire that carried the flame to the cauldron. Keep in mind he was doing this while riddled with the effects of Parkinson’s Disease. One man described it as “the rarest of Olympic moments. It was a moment of infinite sadness, yet supreme majesty. “
One woman, Lonnie Ali, stood beside him through the years he fought Parkinson’s Disease. She became his caregiver, protector, and friend, and most of all his wife.
Lonnie, her sister, and nephew cared for Muhammad twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Lonnie said, “I have loved that man my entire life.”
She and Muhammad met when she was only 6 years old. Muhammad and Lonnie were married in 1986. The marriage took place two years after he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Their children described Lonnie as “the rock” of the family. Lonnie was with him during his lowest points and with his children when he drew his final breath. The Great Muhammad Ali’s body was laid to rest at Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, KY.
The celebration of his life was evident as over 100,000 fans lined the roadways to say their goodbye. The route was 19 miles that wound it’s way through the legend’s hometown. Fans of all nationalities cheered, shouting “Ali”, pumped their fists, stood on cars, tossed flowers, and scattered rose petals as the motorcade went by. Ali would have beamed with pride at how his former childhood city became a city of unity. All of us Louisvillians proudly celebrated the life of The Great Muhammad Ali.