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Three-time heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali was rushed to a Phoenix hospital Thursday with a respiratory illness and his family announced Friday that the boxing legend has died at the age of 74.
Ali suffered from Parkinson’s disease and has battled the illness since the 1980s.
Family members had reportedly gathered around Ali’s bedside on Friday and his daughter, Laila Ali, posted a picture on Facebook of her father holding her daughter.
“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!!”
Born Cassius Clay, he would join the Nation of Islam the day after he “shook up the world” by defeating Sonny Liston and soon after changed his name to Muhammad Ali, although he often called himself “The Greatest.”
And he lived up to the billing again and again.
He was known for his defiance, his style and perhaps most of all, his charisma.
“I know where I’m going and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be,” Ali said at the time. “I’m free to be what I want.”
Ali did not shy away from politics and refused to be inducted into the Army in 1967, surrendering his world heavyweight title in deference to his religious beliefs. He was banned from boxing for three years as a result.
“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam, while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?” he said then.
Ali retired from boxing in 1981 with a 56-5 record, several years before being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Funeral services for Ali will be held in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, according to The Associated Press.
Here’s a sampling of the reaction to Ali’s death from Twitter:
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“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. The hands can't hit what the eyes can't see.”
― Muhammad Ali pic.twitter.com/qbvQINCBvm
— عمرعدنان العبداللات (@omarcartoonist) June 4, 2016
RIP, Muhammad Ali. Here’s SI’s cover remembering The Greatest pic.twitter.com/XA5KhyOwvG
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) June 4, 2016
“Don’t count the days, make the days count.” RIP Muhammad Ali <3 x pic.twitter.com/uqnP907Jhx
— Andy Wooding (@andywooding) June 4, 2016
— indy100 (@indy100) June 4, 2016
— Rowdy T Northlondon (@rowdytukgoon) June 4, 2016
— Shetani Saba (@ShetaniSaba) June 4, 2016
Ever the showman.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) June 4, 2016
— Amir Khan (@amirkingkhan) June 4, 2016
— Slate (@Slate) June 4, 2016
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