Family Ties: The Story Behind Muhammad Ali's Estranged Son

Here's who Ali Jr. blames for cutting him off from The Greatest.

When Muhammad Ali passed away on Friday night, it seems like the whole world mourned. One person who had mixed feelings about the icon's passing, however, is his own son, 43-year-old Muhammad Ali Jr.
The two had been estranged for years, with Ali Jr. living on the poverty line in one of the most notorious neighborhoods of Chicago's South Side. He claims he felt very little of his father's fortune and fame.

In an interview that took place two years ago, Ali Jr. admitted that he did not care what happened to his father, and was more concerned with taking care of himself after being cast aside by his family. Despite this, he was reportedly by his father's side at the time of his passing. As family spokesman Bog Gunnel emphasized to WHAS 11, "They [the family] were all there to say their final goodbyes... Every member of the family was there."

The fissure in their relationship began decades ago, as Ali Jr. struggled to live up to his father's iconic name. Ali's second wife, Belinda Boyd (Ali Jr.'s mother is the Champ's first wife, Khalila Ali), once said, "Junior was woefully neglected by his absentee father as a child, and badly bullied by boys who wanted to prove they could beat up the legendary champion's son."
Things got worse, apparently, when Ali married his current wife, Lonnie. "That woman can’t love her own soul, so how can she love anyone herself? She was jealous of our relationships, and the fact she couldn’t have any children. She’s very bitter. Her mother pushed Lonnie onto my father," Ali Jr. said two years ago.

Ali Jr. has been living off of charity handouts for the last decade to provide for his wife, Shaakira, and their two children. While he was in contact with his two sisters, he said they never spoke about his father. “I don’t discuss my father to my sisters about anything, I don’t have anybody I can confide in, so I don't do that. I don't really care anymore about being cut off from the family.”

The boxing great’s son explained the way he survives. “I've gone through so much things in my life, I've got to the point where it doesn't matter anymore, I live for me. I live life,” he said two years ago. "I know that the last thing about Parkinson's is being bed ridden, and he's been laid up in bed for months.” Adding, “It's just not something that I worry about, I've got more things to worry about than my father, I got to live life, I've got to have a roof over my head, whether someone else is doing good or not, is no concern to me.” 

He continued, "I need a home where I don't feel homeless anymore. I used to say that I felt hurt not having my daddy in my life and it's still not a good feeling."

Ali Jr. then said that in a twist of fate, one man who has helped pull him out of the darkest days of his life is a former Muhammad Ali lookalike. "His name is Dwayne Walker, he used to work as a lookalike to my father," Ali Jr. said. "He'd dress up in boxing trunks and act like him. He's now my mentor."

Hopefully the loss of Ali's life makes it possible for Ali Jr. to gain some closure, and perhaps even rebuild some of the strained relationships that still exist within his own family.

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