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UPI NewsTrack Entertainment News

Feb. 4, 2013 at 2:00 PM   |   Comments

Brother: Muhammad Ali's health failing

LOUISVILLE, Ky., Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Muhammad Ali is fading and may die before long, his younger brother in Louisville, Ky., says, but Ali's wife and a daughter say the boxing great is fine.

Ali, 71, is in terminal decline from Parkinson's disease, Ali's brother Rahman told a British newspaper, The Sun.

"I know him better than anyone," said Rahman Ali, 69.

The older Ali, who called himself "The Greatest," was diagnosed with the degenerative disorder of the central nervous system in 1984. The disease is common to head trauma from activities such as boxing.

"My brother can't speak -- he doesn't recognize me. He's in a bad way. He's very sick," Rahman Ali told the newspaper.

"It could be months, it could be days. I don't know if he'll last the summer," the younger Ali said. "He's in God's hands. We hope he gently passes away.

"He told me before he got really bad that he's in no pain. He grabbed my arm and whispered: 'Rah, I've achieved everything I've ever wanted to accomplish. Don't cry for me, I'm in no pain.'"

But Muhammad Ali's wife, Lonnie Ali, posted a photo on Lockerz.com Sunday night of her husband wearing a jersey of Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. She said it was taken as Ali was getting ready to watch the Super Bowl.

The photo can be seen at http://tinyurl.com/readyforgame.

"All I can tell you is that Muhammad is rooting for the Ravens and Muhammad was completely [taken] with Beyonce," Lonnie told USA Today Sunday night.

Muhammad Ali's poor health is "a rumor," his daughter Rasheda Ali-Walsh told USA Today Sunday night. "I just talked to him today and he's fine."

Family spokesman Bob Gunnell told The [Louisville] Courier-Journal: "He looks great. He's having a Super Bowl party."

Rahman Ali -- himself a former professional heavyweight boxer -- told The Sun he felt it was "best" his three-time world heavyweight champion brother die soon to avoid any "suffering and misery."

"He's going to heaven, there's no doubt," Rahman Ali said. "If his funeral was tomorrow, all the statesmen of the world would turn up. He touched everyone from the rich to the poor."

The Ali brothers -- born Cassius and Rudolph Clay -- grew up in the same bedroom of a two-bedroom home in Louisville with father Cassius Clay Sr. and mother Odessa Clay. They both later adopted Muslim names.

Rahman Ali, who has had 20 strokes, lives in a Louisville apartment with his minister wife Caroline.

Muhammad Ali lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., with Lonnie Ali.

Crowned "Sportsman of the Century" by Sports Illustrated, Muhammad Ali wants to be buried in Louisville and have a quote from 1960s civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. on his headstone, Rahman Ali told The Sun.

"This is his hometown. He'd want to be buried in the cemetery with Mom and Dad," Rahman Ali said. "On his tombstone, he said he wanted the Martin Luther King quote: 'I tried to love somebody. I did try to feed the hungry. I did try, in my life, to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.'"

Below the quote would be "The Greatest," Rahman Ali said.


Bobbi Kristina Brown calls grandmother's book 'disrespectful'

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Bobbi Kristina, the daughter of late U.S. pop star Whitney Houston, says her grandmother's new book is disrespectful and she wants nothing to do with it.

Gospel singer Cissy Houston has been on the interview trail to promote her new memoir, "Remembering Whitney," which details her affectionate but sometimes stormy relationship with her daughter, who battled addictions to drugs and alcohol for years.

"Anything concerning my grandmother's book, I and @nickgordon of course personally have nothing to do with... I haven't read and won't... I find it to be disrespectful to my mother and me being her daughter won't tolerate it," Bobbi Kristina, Whitney Houston's 19-year-old daughter, tweeted Sunday.

Nick Gordon is Bobbi Kristina's boyfriend and Whitney's informally adopted son.

Whitney Houston accidentally drowned in a hotel bathtub in February 2012 after using drugs. She was 48.


Johnny Depp to play Boston gangster Whitey Bulger

BOSTON, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Actor Johnny Depp has signed on to play notorious Boston gangster Whitey Bulger, said the authors of the book on which the film will be based.

Depp is best known as the star of "The Pirates of the Caribbean" movie franchise. He also is a frequent collaborator of director Tim Burton.

His next role will be as Bulger in the film adaptation of "Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob," written by former Boston Globe investigative reporters Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill, Deadline.com reported.

Director Barry Levinson is to begin shooting the flick in May.

"[Depp is] certainly one of the best actors of our time and he can certainly fill any role," Lehr told the Globe.

"He's got [the 1970s-set gangster picture] 'Donnie Brasco' under his belt. Now he'll have Whitey Bulger there, too," O'Neill said.

"Argo" actor-director Ben Affleck is also working on a bio-picture, with his longtime friend and fellow Boston native Matt Damon set to play Bulger, the Globe noted. That film is being written by "The Sopranos" and "Boardwalk Empire" scribe Terry Winter.

Bulger, 83, is in jail awaiting trial. His lawyers have said he was granted immunity so he would not be prosecuted for any of his crimes, including 19 alleged murders in the 1970s and 1980s, in exchange for acting as an FBI informant. He was arrested June 22, 2011, after 17 years on the run.


Destiny's Child reunites at Super Bowl in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams joined their former Destiny's Child member Beyonce at the Super Bowl halftime show in New Orleans Sunday night.

They reunited on stage to sing their hits "Bootylicious" and "Independent Women, Pt. 1," as well as Beyonce's solo song "Single Ladies [Put a Ring on It.]"

Reports circulated for weeks that the recording artists would take the stage again together during headliner Beyonce's halftime show, but Williams had said she would not be able to attend because she was performing in the stage musical "Fela!" and Beyonce kept mum about the buzz altogether.

"Destiny's Child -- Love Songs," a greatest-hits CD set for release Tuesday, features the song "Nuclear," the first new recording by the vocal group in eight years.

Beyonce took to Twitter Sunday night to recognize her fellow Super Bowl performers, including Alicia Keys, who sang "The Star-Spangled Banner," and Jennifer Hudson, who performed "America the Beautiful" with Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School Choir.

"What a proud day for African-American Women! Kelly, Michelle, Alicia, JHud...You are all beautiful, talented and showed so much class! It was an honor to perform at the Super Bowl with you phenomenal ladies. Love, Beyonce," she tweeted.

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