LOUISVILLE, KY - Muhammad Ali, three time world boxing champion, died last Friday at age 74 of respiratory problems after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. In the end, it was Ali himself who planned the funeral. True to his character, he wanted it to be as open to the public as possible, to allow friends and fans to pay their respects.
Before Ali passed he said of his funeral, “This is what I would like to see- that it is inclusive to everyone, where we give as many people an opportunity that want to pay their respects to me” and that’s exactly what he got.
The three days of funeral proceedings began Wednesday with a downtown festival in his home of Louisville, KY, and continued Thursday with a public Muslim service at the city’s expo center. Thousands paid their respect on Friday afternoon in Louisville Kentucky as the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali was laid to rest in an interfaith memorial service.
The processional motorcade began at 9am with over 17 cars, including the hearse carrying the champion, and passed through significant areas to Ali including his boyhood home: the Ali Center, the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, and ended at Cave Hill Cemetery.
Eulogies were given by former President Bill Clinton, actor and comedian Billy Crystal and journalist Bryant Gumbel. Actor Will Smith, who played the title role in the 2001 film ‘Ali” and former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis were among eight pallbearers.
Probably the best memory shared was one from Ali’s daughter, Hana Ali. She said "He never got caught up in anything negative. He wasn’t living life thinking, ‘I have Parkinson’s.’ He didn’t let it control him mentally. He never complained or said ‘Why me?’ He kept going. It was remarkable.”