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LAST UPDATE: Tuesday February 10, 2015 01:10PM EST
- December 05, 2005
- Vol. 64
- No. 23
A Tabloid Report Had Him Near Death, but Muhammad Ali Was the Champ at a Star-Studded Celebration of His New Cultural Center
Just by showing up Ali earned a victory of sorts: One tabloid report had him knocking on death's door. Afflicted with Parkinson's disease since 1984, he underwent back surgery to help restore his balance last month. "His health is not good, and he can't talk," says one longtime family friend. "But he does get out and walk." Celebrating his 19th wedding anniversary with wife Lonnie, Ali looked frail but still struck his trademark boxer's pose—clenched fists, mock growl—for cheering crowds outside the Center. "My dad's health is fine," said his daughter Laila Ali, 27. "Parkinson's is a progressive disease, but he's doing fine."
Which let celebs like Jolie—who underwrote two Center exhibits—to personally thank their hero. "Most times this never happens until somebody dies," said Lonnie Ali, 48. "We wanted Muhammad to be the living, breathing inspiration for this Center."
September 28, 2016
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