Laila Ali, one of the many proud daughters of the late boxing legend Muhammad Ali, opened up on live TV on Monday about her father’s legacy and her personal grief over his passing.
The eighth of nine children, Laila Ali, reflected on her father’s long battle with Parkinson’s disease while speaking on the TODAY show and said her mourning is eased knowing he is no longer in pain.
“I personally have been sad for a long time,” she said. “It’s not easy, it wasn’t easy, to watch him suffer. Knowing he’s not suffering anymore gives me comfort. I’ve prepared mentally for many years, that obviously one day I was going to lose my father and that time has come.”
Muhammad Ali died Friday in Scottsdale, Arizona at age 74.
Laila Ali, who followed in her father’s footsteps to become a retired undefeated professional boxer, recently posted two touching Facebook photos of her dad with each of her two children, Sydney and Curtis.
“My son is a spitting image of my father when he was young and he has so many of his same similar characteristics and qualities. And he’s definitely going to live on through him,” Laila Ali, 38, told TODAY. “He’s learning more and more as he gets older how special papa actually was.”
Some of the late boxing champion’s other children shared social media tributes to their father over the weekend, including daughter Hana Ali who said her dad’s heart kept beating as the rest of his organs failed in his final moments. Muhammad Ali had seven daughters and two sons, according to US Weekly.
“The whole world is sad. I don’t feel alone. It’s not just our family, it’s the whole world,” Laila Ali said Monday. “It was time for him to go and I know he’s in a better place now, and he’s talking again and moving again and doing all the things he couldn’t do in his body. I’m happy for that, even though I will miss him deeply.”
For much more on Muhammad Ali, see TIME’s ALI: The Greatest, a 112-page, fully illustrated commemorative edition. Available at retailers and at AMAZON.COM
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