Muhammad Ali’s family have started making funeral arrangements after doctors warned that the legendary boxer is just hours from death, sources claimed.
The legendary boxer, 74, is reportedly on life support at a hospital outside Phoenix, Arizona, after he was found ‘barely breathing’ at his home on Thursday.
Ali is surrounded by his family who rushed to be at his bedside on Friday after doctors warned his condition was ‘rapidly deteriorating’, Radar Online reported.
A source, who said he had spoken to the three-time heavyweight champion’s wife, Lonnie, said: ‘It’s extraordinarily grave. It’s a matter of hours.
‘It could be more than a couple of hours, but it’s not going to be much more. Funeral arrangements are already being made.’
Ali was taken to hospital on Thursday with an ‘unshakeable cough’, a separate source said, with his reported respiratory problems likely to be complicated by his Parkinson’s disease.
‘Doctors are telling the family that it likely won’t be long until he passes away,’ one insider said.
Another source said Ali’s vitals ‘are terrible’, adding: ‘Ali is in dire straits and is rapidly deteriorating. His breathing has become very shallow, requiring tubes.’
His third wife Veronica Porsche said in an interview on Friday that her two daughters with Ali – Laila and Hana – were on their way to see their father.
‘My daughters have both flown there and I will be hearing from them when they arrive at the hospital,’ Porsche told Radar Online.
‘I can’t comment more than that but I will say it is not so great, I’ll just say that much. He’s a real hero. It’s a sad situation.’
Ali’s second wife, Khalilah, also said that one of her daughters was rushing to see the boxer in the hospital.
A source told Radar: ‘The family feels that even if he somehow survives this setback, he’ll be left in a vegetative state.
‘He can’t stand due to stiffness in the legs. Before this incident, he would sometimes freeze upon standing, like his feet are stuck to the ground. Now he cannot even do that.’
They added: ‘Doctors fear he’s in the early stages of dementia. Or possibly beyond that.
‘The family has gathered around him and is prepared for the worst.’
Ali has been married four times, most recently to his current wife Lonnie, and has nine children – seven daughters and two sons.
Ali’s spokesman, Bob Gunnell, said on Thursday that the boxer was being treated for a respiratory issue at a hospital he would not name and refused to elaborate any further on the matter other than to say his client was in ‘fair condition’ and that the hospital stay would be brief.
‘He is being treated by his team of doctors and is in fair condition,’ said Gunnell.
‘A brief hospital stay is expected. At this time, the Muhammad Ali family respectfully requests privacy.’
He released another statement on Friday stating that there had been no change to Ali’s condition.
Laila Ali spoke about her father’s health struggles in interview with People in March, saying: ‘He’s such a fighter, still, when at times he seems weak and not able to handle it.
‘He comes through stronger than ever. He’s still fighting regardless and I love my dad for that.’
A representative for Laila told Entertainment Tonight on Friday: ‘Laila’s number one priority is her father’s well-being.
‘She truly appreciates the outpouring of love for her family, as she spends quality time with her dad.’
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SOURCE: DailyMail, The Associated Press
Ollie Gillman and Chris Spargo