(AARP) Jon Saraceno, November 9, 2015 — En español | The caregiver edges closer to her frail loved one, a physically diminished figure of greatness whom she continues to admire, cherish and forever share with the world. Steadfast and selfless, Lonnie Ali has towered in her husband’s corner for many long, challenging years. At this moment, a butterfly-shaped cardboard piece designed to enhance fine motor skills gets the best of the man who once stung like a bee, the incomparable Muhammad Ali. Now 72, and in the third decade of a courageous fight against Parkinson’s disease, Ali grips the colorful butterfly with a slightly gnarled right hand and tries to aim a string through a hole.
As Ali sits in his motorized brown-leather chair at home in Paradise Valley, Ariz., his legs appear thin but his forearms are smooth, tan and steelworker-hard. So is his resolve. As happened often in the ring, this once-graceful, powerful man refuses to capitulate, no matter the odds. Eventually, with Lonnie’s help, he catches the butterfly just right and threads the hole.