As we mourn the passing of Muhammad Ali, we stand with the entire Parkinson’s community in sending our love and prayers to support our dear friend May May and the entire Ali family.
A recent Los Angeles Times article described Maryum “May May” Ali as the eldest daughter of Muhammad Ali, a standup comedian, a rapper, and is currently executive director of a nonprofit that focuses on gang prevention and youth development. To the Parkinson’s family, May May is also known as our Official Unity Walk Poet. Her poems are a Walk tradition.
“Pearl” is a poem that is unique because it is about her father’s determination while living with Parkinson’s disease for over three decades.
By Maryum Ali
What a hero he is to me but more so heroic in the face of adversity.
Lightning speed within a square ring turned into slow imbalances while praying for nights like yesteryear spotlights on
The Ali Shuffle.
The rope-a-dope fight is now a rope-a-dopamine battle.
Parkinson’s – akin to traversing upstream in a canoe with a leaking hole without a paddle.
Yes, it is a struggle, but what I admire about my father is his determination to not let symptoms defeat his soul and refusing Parkinson’s to retreat him into darkness taking its toll.
Throughout diseased phases, he maintained divine praises to his Creator,
and I witnessed in the early stages his ability to still raise his once powerful fist despite recurrent shaking.
Reminds me of the famous Cassius Clay quote after Sonny Liston choked, “I shook up the world!”
Yes, Dad, you are a pearl imbedded in the oyster of life, protected by your faith and elevated through social strife.
Standing up for the right to be the man you manifested.
Politically unrested, you tested all waters until the tides waved your way to whisper in your ear,
“You know God’s humanity.”
Now you stand with a walker. No vanity. Now a softer talker if you talk at all.
But what remains the same is your spiritual stance, a presence remaining tall.
I am so inspired by your choice to live your life to the fullest it can be
with over 30 years of PD riding heavily on your back.
From your earliest days to your latest, you haven’t wavered your love of self.
Your eyes still sparkling like the day you proclaimed,
“I Am The Greatest!”
“Pearl” was read by May May at the 2015 Parkinson’s Unity Walk and at the 2016 Kick-Off Reception.