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Phoenix Resident Muhammad Ali Remembered As Valley Local Who Contributed A Lot To Parkinson's At Barrow Institute

Muhammad Ali may have been a citizen of the world, but he lived in the Valley.

Ali split his time between his hometown of Louisville, a summer home in Berrien Springs, Michigan, and Scottsdale, where he spent the most time toward the end of his life.

His name is on the Parkinson Center at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, which he founded in 1997 and where he was treated for the disease.

One of Ali’s closest friends in the Valley was businessman Jimmy Walker, with whom he teamed up for the annual Celebrity Fight Night charity event which raised millions for Barrow over the years and helped it grow into one of the largest Parkinson’s treatment centers in the world.

“In the beginning before we did this with Muhammad Ali, they were seeing about 60 patients a year. Now they’re seeing about 10,000. Alot of credit to Ali, his name his reputation,” Walker said.

Ali’s last public appearance was in April at the Fight Night event held in Scottsdale.

Walker says beyond his charitable work, Ali was a well known fixture in the Valley. “He [was] a resident. He’d go to restaurants. I took him to many Phoenix Suns games. Players on both sides would come up to him and say ‘I just want to shake your hand, champ,'” Walker recalled.

Ali died Friday at the age of 74 and his body was flown back to Louisville, Kentucky, Sunday for funeral services later this week.

Phil Latzman is an award-winning digital journalist and broadcast professional with over 25 years of experience covering news and sports on a multitude of platforms.