PHOENIX (KSAZ) - Muhammad Ali battled Parkinson's Disease for more than 30 years, and he was an active fund-raiser for Parkinson's Research. Ali raised millions for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix.
"The last year was clearly a tough year," said Dr. Abraham Lieberman.
Dr. Lieberman diagnosed Ali with Parkinson's back in the mid-1980's; he stayed close with the legendary boxer until his death.
"When you walk into his home, it wasn't a home of gloom and doom. This was god's will, there was a mission, there was a reason for this," said Dr. Lieberman.
The Center at Barrow Neurological Institute at St Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix has grown into one of the best centers of it's kind in the world.
"He took terrific pride in this center when he would come here his eyes would light up," said Dr. Lieberman.
Ali often visited and made it a point to have the center treat all patients regardless of ability to pay.
"It made no difference what stature you had in society, he treated everybody the same," said Robert Spetzler.
Patients have access to some of the most advanced treatments available.
"I think he has given so many people so much courage to face the issues in their life, and he has done it so generously, and I admire him for being being public," said Judy, a patient.
Despite living with the disease for more than 30 years, doctors say Ali rarely dwelled on his situation.
"As magnificent as he was in the ring, he was equally magnificent outside the ring," said Spetzler.
Ali's center had about 10,000 patient visits last year and adds about 1000 patients every year. In the U.S. around 1.5 million people have Parkinson's Disease, and while there have advances in treatment, there is still no cure.