According to a family spokesperson, Muhammad Ali died on Friday from "septic shock due to unspecified natural causes." The boxer had fallen ill with a respiratory sickness and was hospitalized on Monday, and as of Friday, was on life support with dire warnings from his doctors that the end could be near. Ali had battled Parkinson's disease for over 30 years, a condition that left him vulnerable to sepsis.
Septic shock, the final of the three stages of sepsis, occurs when blood pressure drops to critically low levels as a result of an infection. Sepsis, which begins when an infection reaches the bloodstream and causes inflammation throughout the body, is common in elderly people or people with weakened immune systems. Sepsis is particularly fatal in patients with other complicating factors such as Parkinson's, which often weakens the body too much to fight off any kind of infection. Pope John Paul II also suffered septic shock while he had Parkinson's disease. He never fully recovered before his death.
Septic shock is not always fatal, but in Ali's case, Parkinson's disease presented a crucial barrier to proper treatment. According to ABC News, a person with multiple problems can often suffer "multi-organ system failure," which is what happened to the legendary boxer when he died in an Arizona hospital late Friday night. Septic shock is a leading cause of death among patients in intensive care units.
As fans across the world mourn the boxer's death, Ali's daughter Hana Ali posted a message to Twitter that shows that he had a fighting spirit until the end. Even after all of his organs failed, his heart kept beating for 30 minutes longer.
The boxer will be brought back to his hometown of Louisville, with plans for a funeral on Friday that will feature a eulogy delivered by President Bill Clinton. Impromptu memorials have been set up outside of the Arizona hospital that Ali died in and in front of the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville. Hopefully he will be remembered as he wanted to be: "a man who won the heavyweight title three times, who was humorous, and who treated everyone right. As a man who never looked down on those who looked up to him, and who helped as many people as he could. As a man who stood up for his beliefs no matter what. As a man who tried to unite all humankind through faith and love."