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Muhammad Ali remained hospitalized Friday in the Phoenix area, battling respiratory problems serious enough to draw family members to his bedside.
The 74-year-old boxing great’s respiratory issues have been complicated by the Parkinson’s disease that he was diagnosed with in the 1980s, two people told The Associated Press a day earlier.
The two spoke separately in describing Ali’s condition as being very concerning to family members. They declined to be identified because they were not speaking on behalf of the family.
Several of Ali’s daughters reportedly flew to Phoenix late Thursday and early Friday to be with their father.
Laila Ali, herself a former boxing champion, posted a picture Friday afternoon on Facebook of her father holding her daughter when she was an infant. “I love this photo of my father and my daughter Sydney when she was a baby!” she wrote. “Thanks for all the love and well wishes. I feel your love and appreciate it!!” (See the post below.)
A spokesman for the former heavyweight champion said in an email Friday that there was no update on his condition. Spokesman Bob Gunnell said a day earlier that Ali was in fair condition and that a brief hospital stay was expected.
Ali’s longtime Parkinson’s doctor declined comment when reached Thursday night by the AP.
“I can’t really say much more than what’s in the papers,” said Dr. Abraham Lieberman of the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix.
News of his hospitalization brought well wishes from boxers and many others on Twitter, including Sugar Ray Leonard, who modeled his career after Ali’s. “Prayers & blessings to my idol, my friend, & without question, the Greatest of All Time @MuhammadAli ! #GOAT,” Leonard wrote.
Friday night, the Miami Marlins began trending after announcing that Ali had died, although there had been no official announcement of his passing. Moments after the game against the New York Mets ended, a photo of a triumphant Ali appeared on the scoreboard with the dates: “1942-2016.” Marlins president David Samson said he had been informed that Ali had died, but declined to identify the source of the information.
Ali has been hospitalized several times in recent years, most recently in early 2015 when he was treated for a severe urinary tract infection initially diagnosed as pneumonia.
Ali has looked increasingly frail in public appearances, including on April 9 when he wore sunglasses and was hunched over at the annual Celebrity Fight Night dinner in Phoenix, which raises funds for treatment of Parkinson’s.
His last formal public appearance before that was in October, when he appeared at the Sports Illustrated Tribute to Muhammad Ali at The Muhammad Ali Center in his hometown of Louisville, Ky., along with former opponents George Foreman and Larry Holmes.
Ali has suffered from Parkinson’s for three decades, most famously trembling badly while lighting the Olympic torch in 1996 in Atlanta. Despite the disease he kept up a busy appearance schedule until recently, though he has not spoken in public for years.
Doctors say the Parkinson’s likely was caused by the thousands of punches Ali took during a career in which he traveled the world for big fights.
An iconic figure who at one point was perhaps the most recognized person in the world, Ali has lived quietly in the Phoenix area with his fourth wife, Lonnie, whom he married in 1986.
See the outpouring of support on social media from Hollywood below.
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) June 3, 2016
— Holly Robinson Peete (@hollyrpeete) June 3, 2016
For the greatest man I have ever known. https://t.co/OUZHVZWBHY
— Billy Crystal (@BillyCrystal) June 3, 2016
— Jermaine Jackson (@jermjackson5) June 3, 2016
Our thoughts are fully with you, Muhammad Ali.
We hope The Greatest of all time overcomes this fight pic.twitter.com/9l4kQDWWJP
— SHOWTIME SPORTS (@SHOsports) June 3, 2016
— Rev Jesse Jackson Sr (@RevJJackson) June 3, 2016
— Manny Pacquiao (@mannypacquiao) June 4, 2016
— Sugar Ray Leonard (@SugarRayLeonard) June 2, 2016
Go peacefully Muhammad Ali. We were lucky to have you. #GOAT
— Patrick J Adams (@halfadams) June 4, 2016
Sending my prayers to The Greatest, Muhammad Ali. Time for a comeback, champ. You can do it!!
— Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) June 4, 2016
June 3, 7:15 p.m. PT: Updated
June 3, 9:27 p.m. PT: Muhammad Ali died Friday at a hospital in Phoenix. Read the full story here.
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