A street on the Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center campus, which houses Barrow Neurological Institute’s Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center, was renamed for Muhammad Ali today. The street honors the Champ’s enduring legacy as the face of the fight against Parkinson’s disease.
West Merrell Street was renamed Muhammad Ali Way between Central Avenue and Third Avenue, in Central Phoenix. The new street signs were unveiled during a ceremony attended by Lonnie Ali, world champion boxer Earnie Shavers, local dignitaries, philanthropists, and patients and staff at the Center.
Monday marked the third anniversary of Ali’s death in Phoenix at age 74. The City of Phoenix also proclaimed the date “Muhammad Ali Day” in honor of all that he did for his adopted hometown.
“Muhammad was proud to lend his name to the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center and offer hope and inspiration to those afflicted with Parkinson’s disease,” his widow, Lonnie Ali, said. “It is an incredible honor to have a street near the Center renamed for him.”
Established in 1997 by Muhammad Ali, Dr. Abraham Lieberman and Phoenix philanthropist Jimmy Walker, the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center has grown into the most comprehensive Parkinson’s disease center in the world. The Center’s original 5,000 square-foot facility doubled in size in 2009 and again in 2014. The Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center is now 26,450 square feet and with more than 14,000 patients each year.
“We are very grateful that Lonnie Ali has allowed us to honor Muhammad, and we thank the City of Phoenix for its partnership in renaming a street after the Champ,” said Holly Shill, MD, director of the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center who led this morning’s ceremony. “Muhammad’s legacy lives on. His spirit pervades everything that goes on here at the Center.”
The ceremony also included speeches by Celebrity Fight Night founder Jimmy Walker, and president and CEO of Dignity Health’s Arizona Division Linda Hunt.
“Muhammad Ali loved Phoenix and it is fitting for his adopted hometown, where Muhammad chose to make his home during the final years of his life, to recognize his incredible contributions to our city and the world,” said Jimmy Walker, who is the founder of the annual, star-studded Celebrity Fight Night charity event that has been a key supporter of the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center for 20 years.