Laila Ali: 'Knowing my father's no longer suffering eases my grief'

World premiere of 'Creed' at the Regency Village Theatre - Arrivals Featuring: Laila Ali Where: Los Angeles, California, United States When: 19 Nov 2015 Credit: Adriana M. Barraza/

Laila Ali's grief over the death of her father Muhammad Ali is eased by no longer seeing him suffer the effects of Parkinson's disease.

The boxing legend died aged 74 on Friday after being admitted to hospital for respiratory problems. However the sporting icon had battled the degenerative disorder of the nervous system for more than three decades.

And Laila, 38, who followed in her father's footsteps by becoming a successful professional boxer, says that despite being sad to see her father pass on, she is glad his suffering is at an end.

"I personally have been sad for a long time, my father has been struggling with Parkinson's disease for many years and it wasn't easy to watch him suffer," she tells The Today Show. "Knowing that he's not suffering anymore is what gives me comfort. I've prepared mentally for many years, that obviously one day I was going to lose my father and that time has come."

However despite finding it difficult to see her father struggle with the neurological disease in his later years, when its progression made it difficult for him to talk and walk, she says he was never resigned to death.

"I know that my father, one of the things he was afraid of was death and he definitely wouldn't want to just move on," she adds. "But we're not in control, God is in control and everything pretty much is written and it was time for him to go. I know he's in a better place now and he's talking again, and moving again and doing all the things that he couldn't do in his body and I'm happy for that even though I will miss him deeply."

Speaking on Good Morning America, Laila, the eighth of the sportsman's nine children, revealed the superstar was surrounded by all his children in his final hours, with his daughters honoring his Islamic faith.

"My sisters were saying Islamic prayers," she told GMA. "It was a very peaceful time and we sent him off in a very peaceful way."

"All of us kids were all at the hospital and all had the opportunity to be with him when he passed away," she reveals. "We all were there and that doesn't always happen, when everybody has the opportunity to be there, so that was very nice."

After her dad's death Laila paid tribute to him by posting a picture of Muhammad alongside her son Curtis in a Louis Vuitton advertisement on Facebook.

Commenting on the seven-year-old's resemblance to his grandfather she tells TODAY, "My son is a spitting image of my father when he was young and he has so many of his same similar characteristics and qualities and he's definitely going to live on through him."

On Sunday, the boxer's body was delivered to his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, where Laila and other Ali family members will attend a private funeral service on Thursday. A public funeral will be held on Friday.