Muhammad Ali Cause Of Death: Septic Shock & Parkinson’s Disease–How Did ‘The Greatest’ Die?

Muhammad Ali battled against the neurological illness Parkinson’s Disease for more than 30 years before his death, but what did the boxing legend ultimately die from?

Ali family spokesperson, Bob Gunnell reported Muhammad was rushed to the hospital on Friday due to a “respiratory problem.” The New York Post reported the controversial sports figure’s death was confirmed. “He did not suffer,” family spokesman Gunnell said Saturday.

Hana Ali, one of Ali’s daughters posted the following statement to twitter.

“For 30 minutes his heart just kept beating. No one had ever seen anything like it. It was a true testament to the strength of his spirit and will.”

“Septic shock refers to an aggressive, full-body inflammatory response to an infection, and is common among the elderly and those with weak immune systems. The blood pressure plummets, leading to organ failure.”

While deadly, sepsis is not typically painful, according to NBC News, “The patient isn’t going to feel that their kidneys are shutting down et cetera.”

Septic shock can also be referred to a widespread infection that causes dangerously low blood pressure and organ failure. Septic shock can make breathing more difficult, requiring emergency treatment with IV fluids, oxygen and antibiotics. In January 2015, Ali was hospitalized for several days after suffering a severe urinary tract infection, which was originally believed to be pneumonia. Muhammad was treated for the same thing in December 2014.

Parkinson’s Disease: Here’s What You Need To Know

It is unknown what kind of breathing problem Muhammad Ali was having, however, his Parkinson’s could have made it worse. Parkinson’s is a neurological disorder that develops gradually over time. Motor skills deteriorate due to neurons breaking down or dying over time, according to Mayo Clinic. The slow stiffening of muscles can lead to breathing problems. Dr. Michael S. Okun notes the muscles can weaken and affect the person’s ability to cough and swallow. These factors can put a patient at risk of developing pneumonia.

“While Muhammad Ali is best known as one of the greatest athletes of our time, we will always remember him as one of the strongest fighters in the Parkinson’s community.”

Dr. Michael S. Okun, national medical director of the National Parkinson Foundation said in a statement, “Ali brought the critically needed international attention to Parkinson’s disease and this awareness served as the catalyst for advances in education, care and research.”

One year after the 1996 Olympics, Ali founded the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center in Phoenix with his wife to help find a cure, according to Mashable.

1. Famous People With Parkinson’s Disease

Michael J. Fox is a super famous celebrity whose battled with he disease for decades. Fox is known to have done some major advocate work. Johnny Cash and Estelle Getty (Golden Girls actress) have also battled the disease.

2. Parkinson’s destroys the ability for people to control their movements

People suffering from this illness may have slowed movement, stiff limps, slurred speech and issues with balance. The brain disease generally starts with tremors that get more and more severe.

3. Parkinson’s develops when dopamine-producing cells die

Though the exact cause of the disease is still unknown, Parkinson’s develops when cells that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine begin dying. Dopamine is what transports signals to the parts of the brain that control movement. The symptoms of the disease start to appear when there is little dopamine in the body.

3. Over 1 million Americans have Parkinson’s Disease

The amount of people living with Parkinson’s disease is staggering. An estimate of four to five million people are living with Parkinson’s worldwide. This number includes one million Americans.

4. Parkinson’s Disease Has No Known Cure

There are many treatments for Parkinson’s, however, there is no cure for the condition. Various medications can affect dopamine levels.

5. Age of Diagnosis

The risk of developing Parkinson’s disease increases with age. Symptoms usually occur after the age of 50. Around 1 in 20 people are diagnosed under the age of 40 years.

Muhammad Ali was a three-time world champion boxer whose incredible boxing style infused power, speed and agility more cohesively than any fighter to come before him.

muhammad ali death cause
The 74-year old boxing legend was reportedly divorced three times and father to nine children. Muhammad and Yolanda ‘Lonnie’ Ali (his current wife, now widowed) lived in Scottsdale, Arizona. Muhammad and Lonnie never had children, but adopted a five-year-old boy, Asaad Amin, who they raised as their own. The New York Time reports his wife stated he rarely did TV interviews as he no longer liked the way he looked on camera.

“He spent most of his time at his home in Paradise Valley, Ariz., often watching Western movies and old black-and-white TV shows.”

“But he loved the adoration of crowds…Even though he became vulnerable in ways he couldn’t control, he never lost his childlike innocence, his sunny, positive nature. Jokes and pranks and magic tricks. He wanted to entertain people, to make them happy.”

Muhammad only suffered five losses over the span of his 21-year boxing career. Three of losses came during his last four fights. This, amongst other things, is why many have considered him to be the greatest heavyweight boxer in the world.

[Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images]