The Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center Mourns the Loss of its Namesake

PHOENIX – The Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute mourns the loss of Muhammad Ali, whose generosity, courage, fighting spirit and dedication to helping others are the pillars of the Center.

We express condolences to the Ali family and his millions of fans and admirers worldwide. Muhammad Ali rose to fame as a champion boxer, but his legacy extends far beyond the sports world. Muhammad was a beloved humanitarian and charitable philanthropist whose brave struggle with Parkinson’s disease, which affects more than 1.5 million Americans, inspired the patients, doctors and researchers at the Center bearing his name.

“I first met Muhammad Ali in the late 1990s when he had been dealing with Parkinson’s for many years,” said Holly Shill, MD, director of the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center. “I have watched him face the disease with grace and humor, and he has inspired countless patients to do the same. We have lost a great warrior in the battle of Parkinson’s, but hope continues for a better tomorrow. We will continue with the Center’s mission to improve the quality of life for those affected by Parkinson’s.”

photo of muhammad ali and his physician, abraham lieberman, from 1999
Ali and Dr. Lieberman in 1999

Established in 1997 by Lonnie and Muhammad Ali, Phoenix philanthropist Jimmy Walker, and Abraham Lieberman, MD, the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow has grown into the most comprehensive Parkinson’s disease center in the world. The Center, which is part of Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, stands as a reminder of why Muhammad will always be The Greatest, and we are grateful for the support the Ali family has given to the Center over the years.

“Muhammad Ali stood up for what he believed in,” said Ida Stanford, a patient at the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center who also participates in many of its outreach programs. “I couldn’t imagine having Parkinson’s and not having a place like the Center here. It has created a community for us.”

“Even with the passing of Muhammad, he is in our hearts and continues to inspire us. He was a wonderful friend and advocate to Barrow Neurological Institute. He made us all strive for greatness,” said Robert Spetzler, MD, director of Barrow.