Laila Ali on Dad Muhammad's Passing: I Know 'He's His Plain, Free Self Again'
Nearly a year after Muhammad Ali's death, his daughter Laila says she's sure her father is in a better place
It’s been less than a year since the world lost boxing champion Muhammad Ali and Laila Ali lost her father to a 35-year battle with Parkinson’s disease — but Laila is content that he’s is in a much better place.
“I always talk about my dad. I have no problem with it. He did pass,” she said at the world premiere of the film Gun—in which she has a cameo role as a reporter—at the Beverly Hills Film Festival in Hollywood on Wednesday night.
“We have comfort knowing he’s in a better place now. He struggled hard with this disease for 35 years. He did an amazing job, still doing humanitarian work, being an inspiration to so many people with illness and in general. So I love him for that. He’s truly missed.”
The boxing legend died on June 3, 2016 after being hospitalized with a respiratory issue. He was 74.
Though Laila misses her father, she said that he is probably more free now than he was when he was fighting to stay alive.
“My dad wasn’t himself for so many years. It was like a shell of himself, in a body. He couldn’t really communicate the way that he wanted to,” Laila recalled.
“So it’s not like it was so sudden. It was kind of a progression. Like I said, I really do have comfort in knowing that now he’s his plain, free self again, talking, moving, boxing, doing whatever he wants to do. We’ll meet again.”
The TV host, author, actress, lifestyle podcaster and mom of two was excited about plans to get together with her siblings to celebrate her dad’s legacy on Father’s Day.
“I have a podcast, Laila Ali Lifestyle … I talk about fitness, health, wellness and parenting,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to Father’s Day because I want to do a special with my sisters, just our memories of my dad. So I’m looking forward to that.”
She also put to rest the rumors that there was any feuding over inheritance after her father’s passing.
“There’s nine of us. We’re definitely not feuding,” she said. “That’s not true. That’s tabloid stuff. We’ve never been feuding.”
When it comes to boxing, Ali said there is sometimes more to it than her dad.
The film Gun, in which Laila appears, is also about a boxer. This one is a washed-up alcoholic who makes a come back to fight after his top heavyweight contender son is wrongfully blinded in the ring.
“My father is way bigger than boxing. He’s a global icon,” she said when asked if being involved in the film reminded her of her father. “So I don’t even think, oh my dad, any time I think of boxing. I’m a boxer myself. I would think of me before I thought of my dad.”
Laila’s passion now is in women’s empowerment.
WATCH: Laila Ali Opens Up About Her Children Following In The Footsteps of Father Muhammad Ali
“I’m really excited about a project I’m doing with T.J. Maxx, called The Maxx You Project,” she continued. “It’s really encouraging women to embrace the things about themselves that make them unique.”
“I’m always normal and real,” she said, adding jokingly, “We had an episode on vagina 101, for women that had children who want to know some things about tightening it back up. We get real real. So I’m having fun. I’m talking about things that I want to talk about.”