June 06, 2016 03:05 PM

As Muhammad Ali‘s children and grandchildren gathered around his deathbed, they found comfort in being together, just as the champ had wished.

“Out of our sorrow came a beautiful thought, that we were solidified,” Ali’s daughter, Hana Ali, recalls.

“From the time we were little, dad always brought us together with our stepmother. He’d sit us down and say, ‘You have different mothers, but you are sisters. and I want you all to come together and love each other.’ ”

The boxing legend died on Friday at a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, where he had spent the past few days being treated for respiratory complications, a family spokesperson told PEOPLE. He was 74.

Muhammad Ali (center) with children

Along with Hana, Ali leaves behind eight more children: Laila, Rasheda, Maryum, Jamillah, Khaliah, Miya, Muhammad Ali Jr. and Asaad Amin.

He also leaves behind his wife, Lonnie, and grandchildren.

Hana says her father’s desire to bring his family together stemmed from his own upbringing.

“A lot of people don’t know this, but he had two half-brothers he hardly knew. He didn’t want us to be strangers like that,” Hana tells PEOPLE.

Muhammad Ali (left) with daughter Hana
Source: Hana Ali/Instagram

“So as he was lying in that hospital bed, we were standing around him, telling him, ‘You did it. All your children are friends. You gave us that.’ ”

“I was rubbing his feet,” she adds. “My sisters Laila, Rasheda, and the others were holding his hands and kissing him. It hit us all in this moment: how grateful we were for this gift.”

Laila, who retired from boxing undefeated, echoed her sister’s statements during a Monday appearance on Good Morning America.

“We sent him off in a very peaceful way,” Laila told GMA of her father. “All of us kids were all at the hospital and had the opportunity to be with him when he passed away.”

“We all were there, and that doesn’t always happen, when everybody has the opportunity to be there. So that was very nice.”

Both Hana and Laila are Ali’s children from his third marriage, to Veronica Porsche-Ali. He reportedly had Miya and Khaliah with women from outside his marriages.

The boxing legend had four children with his second wife Belinda Boyd: Maryum, twins Jamillah and Rasheda and Muhammad Ali Jr.

He adopted Asaad with Lonnie in 1991.

You May Like

EDIT POST