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Muhammad Ali's youngest son was able to see a side of the champion that included everything from magic tricks with strangers to an older Ali showing off the reflexes that made him a boxing legend.
Asaad Ali, 25, shared those recollections and his final moments with his dad with Matt Lauer on TODAY Friday. His reflections came in advance of a memorial service in his father's hometown of Louisville a week after Ali's death at 74.
"What I can say about that room (before Ali died), it was just a really emotional, powerful, spiritual moment that we all shared with him,'' Asaad said. "I was able to say my last few words that I really wanted to say to him for a while now."
Asaad also posted a touching tribute to his father on Instagram in the wake of his death.
The youngest of Ali's nine children, Asaad was born a decade after his father last stepped in the ring, so he knew him much more as "Dad" than as a global icon.
"There was times where back when I was younger, and we could be driving down the street and there'd be somebody on the road — in the middle of the road. And he'd pick 'em up and we'd put 'em in the car and he'd take 'em home to do magic tricks,'' Asaad said. "My mom would be furious at him."
Even after he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, Ali would still give his son glimpses of the dynamo in the ring who was able to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.
"I can remember when it was around his 60s, we were sitting chair to chair next to each other and there was a lamp and a table in between us,'' Asaad said. "There was a fly, just wandering around. He just snatched it outta nowhere. He just looked at me at said, 'I still got it.'''
Asaad, who is an assistant baseball coach at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa, also remembered his father's toughness in dealing with the effects of Parkinson's disease.
"He was a man that never complained, never showed weakness,'' he said. "You never could never tell what days were bad with Parkinson's, what days were good. Because he's that kind of person. He's tough, he's strong."
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