Laila Ali, daughter of iconic boxer Muhammad Ali, and undefeated champ herself, tells PEOPLE that her dad is
“is in good spirits and knows what’s going on around him.”
The retired undefeated boxer talked to People about raising her two kids who don’t know who exactly their grandpa is.
“To them, he is just ‘Papa’ and I’m mom. But my son is starting to understand how great my dad truly was.”
If you didn’t know, Muhammad Ali has been battling Parkinson’s Disease for 30 years and Laila admits it was hard for her son to piece together old photos of her father with the man they know today. Ali also said that during Black History Month, her son was confused to see a photo of her grandfather with MLK, saying,
“He knows a grandpa that can’t walk or talk anymore, and to see him next to MLK, to him a guy of the past, made him confused. He was like ‘Papa knows MLK, they were together?’ It was a surreal moment for him because it placed someone he knows now in history. The next day he came back to me and started talking about death. He had put together that MLK Jr. had passed away and that Papa might too. He said ‘I don’t want you to die Papa!”
This obviously made her very emotional, but she says that her father continues to fight and isn’t giving up:
“That man continues to put me in awe. He’s such a fighter, still, when at times he seems weak and not able to handle it he comes through stronger than ever. He’s still fighting regardless and I love my dad for that.”