Before joining Zebrahead Ali was a pre-med student at UC Irvine majoring in Biology and minoring in Theater. After graduating, he decided to take a year off from school to take the MCAT and to apply to medical school . It was during this time that he started singing with the other members of Zebrahead. After a year away from school he was accepted into the University of Chicago Medical School. However, due to Zebraheads early success, he deferred acceptance for one year."I didn't expect music to go anywhere. I thought I'd do it for a year and then I'd leave, and in a week's period, I got an acceptance to med school and we were supposed to do a showcase and the label was going to fly us to New York and I had to tell the school; they wanted to know. So I deferred for a year and then decided that I didn't want to go back after a year.... I think [music is] the ultimate way to express culture. To do that for a living? Everybody should aspire to do that."
In 1999 while on the Warped Tour, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease, a type of cancer, which he underwent chemo therapy and radiation therapy to cure. While being treated, he continued to work with his bandmates in writing songs for their upcoming album Playmate of the Year and a few months before the album's release, he completed his therapy. He claims that because of what he was going through, some of the songs from that album are very special to him.
Due to Zebrahead's growing popularity in Japan, Ali Tabatabaee and Zebrahead bandmate Matty Lewis were asked by Sega to record vocals for a new theme song, titled "His World", which appears in Sonic The Hedgehog. Ali Tabatabaee also composes the songs that Zebrahead makes.