Muhammad Ali, the legendary boxer and iconic public figure, died on Friday, June 3, at a hospital in the Phoenix area. He was 74.
The cause of Ali's death was septic shock, according to a family spokeswoman. Ali had entered the hospital earlier on Friday due to a respiratory infection and was put on life support shortly before he died, according to CNN. Since 2014, Ali had also been hospitalized for a severe urinary tract infection and pneumonia.
The former boxer suffered from Parkinson's disease for more than three decades, and in many ways became the face of the disease.
"He brought the average American's attention to this disease," Leslie Chambers, president and CEO of the American Parkinson Disease Association, told the New York Daily News. "We're so grateful for him. In the long run, he's helped our community in a tremendous way."
Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1984, just three years after his final fight. He was 42 at the time of the diagnosis. Even before the diagnosis, however, Ali was experiencing symptoms, such as slurring of speech, tingling in his hands, and a slowness in his body.
In fact, just 10 weeks before a 1980 bout, a team of doctors at the Mayo Clinic submitted a report to the Nevada State Athletic Commission with details about a small hole in the outer layer of Ali's brain, according to CNN.
Doctors have speculated that Ali's Parkinson's was caused by too many punches to the head, The New York Times reported. But his wife, Lonnie, has said the disease was brought on by exposure to pesticides and other toxic chemicals while he was at a training camp in Deer Lake, Pennsylvania.
In his prime, Ali was a towering giant both inside and outside the ring. He was a phenomenally gifted athlete whose outspokenness, bravado, and activism endeared him to millions. But Parkinson's took its toll, slowly, on Ali, withering his body and affecting his speech.
He didn't let the disease prevent him from traveling the world, speaking to audiences, conducting interviews and, in 1996, lighting the Olympic cauldron in Atlanta. He even made a public appearance in April at Celebrity Fight Night, a gala in Phoenix to raise money for Parkinson's treatments. It was his last public appearance.
"Even though Muhammad has Parkinson's and his speech isn't what it used to be, he can speak to people with his eyes," his wife said. "He can speak to people with his heart, and they connect with him."