Mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Shahril Salim had been fighting for his life following a brain injury two years ago.
Bedridden and connected to a feeding tube, he battled constant fevers, seizures and breathlessness.
So his family thought it was a regular ailment when he felt feverish on Wednesday, and decided to take him to the hospital yesterday morning when it did not subside.
To their shock, Mr Shahril, who was supposed to turn 24 next Thursday, died on the way to the hospital.
The youngest of six siblings, Mr Shahril had been living with his second sister, Madam Tini Salim, in Jurong for the past five months.
Madam Tini's daughter, who wanted to be known only as Aisyah, 20, said: "We thought he was getting better. He looked great, and he was gaining weight."
Mr Shahril, who lost the ability to talk after the injury, was starting to learn to communicate with his family.
He would raise his hand, shake or nod his head, and form alphabets with his fingers.
Miss Aisyah, who grew up with Shahril, recalled: "The night before, he raised his hand when I returned home from work. It signified a hug. I placed my head on his chest and he tapped my head."
Close to tears, the student added: "I asked him why he was so sad. I didn't know he would be leaving the next day."
The family will be collecting Mr Shahril's body from the mortuary today.
Mr Shahril, a former ITE College East student, was just 12 days from making his debut as a professional boxer when he collapsed in Oct 2012.
Orphaned at the age of 10, Mr Shahril saw boxing as a way to prove himself and inspire others.
His parents died five months apart from each other, suffering from complications related to diabetes, hypertension and heart problems.
Miss Aisyah, said: "Shahril saw how others (orphans) were feeling lost and not chasing their dreams.
"He wanted to show them that they could be someone too. He always wanted to be the best for the people around him."
Shortly after developing an interest in MMA in 2011, Mr Shahril joined the Juggernaut Fight Club.
A trainer there discovered his talent for boxing and found him ready to be a professional boxer after a year.
PASSION FOR BOXING
His only brother, Mr Jufri Salim, 31, who runs a music and events company, said: "Our sisters disapproved of him fighting at first because they were worried that it was dangerous.
"But I could see that Shahril was searching for what he was good at and he was very passionate, so we let him to do what he wanted." Mr Shahril stayed with his sister, Lisa, 36, after their parents died. She moved to Norway in 2011.
The close-knit family rallied around their youngest brother after his incident.
Mr Jufri, who is married with three kids aged eight to 13, took care of Shahril for more than a year after he was discharged from hospital.
His wife, Madam Surayah Akbar, 31, who works with her husband, said the family and their helper worked as a team.
She recalled: "We went for courses to learn how to care for him. We recorded his temperature, blood pressure and heart rate up to five times a day.
"My eldest boy, Rahmat, helped to change his diapers and would push him (on a wheelchair) to the living room to watch television."
Mr Jufri added with a laugh: "He would watch boxing and action films, but never horror, because he didn't like to be scared."
Although the family members are grieving the sudden loss of Mr Shahril, they are also consoled by the fact that he is no longer suffering.
Miss Aisyah said: "Shahril never smiled, he grinned instead. He had such an infectious grin.
"We believe that God has better plans for him. He never gave up for the past two years and I know that he wouldn't want people to be sad for him."
He collapsed before making pro boxing debut
Mr Shahril Salim, who had been working towards his professional boxing debut for more than a year, was going to use "The Bull" as his nickname for the inaugural match at Marina Bay Sands on Nov 9, 2012.
He collapsed after a training session at Juggernaut Fight Club on Boat Quay on Oct 28, 2012, and was rushed to the hospital for an emergency brain operation.
He remained in a coma until early last year, and was discharged shortly after.
He had been bedridden since.
This article was first published on Nov 28, 2014.
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