*Muhammad Ali died of septic shock. This was determined after the iconic American figure spent five days at an Arizona hospital for what started out as respiratory problems that gradually worsened. The boxing legend succumbed after his wife and children arrived at his bedside to say goodbye, according to a family spokesman on Saturday.
“It was a solemn moment,” Bob Gunnell told reporters in Phoenix.
Those details come in the midst of Ali’s family planning a public funeral for him on Friday in his hometown of Louisville, KY. What’s being planned is a daylong affair that will include a procession through the streets where the 74-year-old world champion grew up and learned to box. His body is expected to be returned to the city within two days.
A small family funeral will precede the public service on Thursday, spokesman Bob Gunnell told reporters in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“A rather large funeral procession will take Muhammad Ali through the streets of Louisville to allow anyone that is there from the world to say goodbye,” Gunnell said.
Ali himself had requested much of the planned service, Gunnell noted, which is to be conducted in accordance with “Muslim tradition” and in the presence of an imam.
That public parade will end at Cave Hill Cemetery, where Ali will be buried.
As we said above, the official cause of death was “septic shock due to unspecified natural causes,” Gunnell said, adding that Ali was first hospitalized on Monday.
“We still had a lot of hope it was going to turn around,” he said, but it later became clear that the boxer’s condition was deteriorating.
“His final hours were spent with just immediate family,” he added. “He did not suffer.”
President Barack Obama led tributes from around the world to the iconic fighter, one of the great sports heroes of the 20th century and a colorful civil rights activist.
Louisville lowered flags to half-staff in his honor on Saturday.