A Family of Champions Fighting Together
ONE OF THE greatest fighters of our time has bred a family of champions. There are seven girls and two boys that make up the immediate family of Muhammad Ali.
Recently, I spoke with daughter, actress/writer Rasheda Ali about her new book I'll Hold Your Hand So You Won't Fall: A Child's Guide To Parkinson's Disease a book dedicated to children for the understanding of Parkinson's Disease. This disease has been part of the Ali family for over two decades.
"I wrote this book because I wanted my children to understand what their Grand Dad is going through," said Rasheda, the mother of 5-year-old Nico and 7-year-old Biaggio. "I know we're not the only ones going through this; other families are dealing with Parkinson's also. It's a very complex illness and the medical jargon is going to beat you up with all the terms that get thrown around, so this was my way of explaining it to children."
In Muhammad's forward, in Rasheda's book, he states, "this becomes especially evident when I notice why my grandchildren become perplexed as the "new me" evolves. Ali also states that "even though I give them all the hugs and kisses they will allow, they find it difficult to communicate with me. They don't understand why my arms tremor or my walking is stiff and rigid or why I don't smile as easily as they do."
If you remember, Muhammad Ali was one of the most remarkable fighters and personalities of our time. His accomplishments far exceed what the ordinary boxer strived for. On May 25, 1965 in Lewiston, Maine, Ali stood over Sonny Liston in the infamous one-round rematch that captured the world.
Ali was probably one of the first rappers with "I am the greatest." Ali has made legendary history in our time. If you remember, one of his greatest sayings, "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, your hands can't hit what your eyes can't see," was what us baby boomers would most remember.
As producer and host of Entertainment Las Vegas Style, my weekly entertainment variety TV show now going into its 21st year, I receive many invitations to interview various topics in the entertainment industry. When Jules Feiler, publicist, contacted me and asked if I would be interested in talking with Rasheda Ali, daughter of Muhammad Ali about her book made for children on Parkinson's disease, I knew that it would be special and I was honored.
When Rasheda first came into my office I felt a special positive energy coming from her. I knew she was special and that she was a part of the powerful energy that the Ali name represents.
It was especially inspiring for me to learn that she was born an identical twin, two and a half minutes apart and born in Philadelphia. Being an identical twin myself, six minutes apart and born in Philadelphia, I knew a friendship was to materialize. I was delightfully surprised to learn how humble and down to earth Rasheda was, a trait I'm sure she learned from her father
&"So as a child growing up," Rasheda remarks, "I was used to hearing proud comments from a lot of people such as, 'You know Your Dad's My Hero,' which is really nice to know and it makes me feel proud to be his daughter. However, I didn't tell my husband, French Chef, Robert Walsh, who my father was for the first year that we dated. I wanted people to accept me for me and not another influence. "
Rasheda, who lives in Las Vegas with her husband Bobby, whom I've had a chance to meet with the family, is hoping to sign an acting gig in a daytime soap. In the meantime, she is promoting her book on the awareness of Parkinson's diseasea child's guide and also urging President Bush not to veto the just-passed legislation to expand federal funding of stem-cell researcha possible avenue for a cure for Parkinson's disease.
Rasheda was chosen as the honorary guest speaker at the Stem Cell Research Conference held in Brussels at the European Parliament in December 2005 and most recently, at the World PD Day Conference in Cape Town, South Africa (to celebrate World Parkinson's Day) as Archbishop Desmond Tutu's guest, as he signed the Global Declaration for Parkinson's Disease.
She also appeared on Dateline with Katie Courie, a special on Parkinson's Disease.
Her book is translated in 7 different languages and distributed in bookstores and libraries across the country and the world. A family of champions still fighting together.
For more information please log on to www.rashedaali.com.