Muhammad Ali was laid to rest on June 10 with a touching service that honored the legendary athlete’s incredible life and accomplishments. The remarkable ceremony took place in Muhammad’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky and it was QUITE a sight to see.
Family and friends of Muhammad Ali — including celebs such as Will Smith, 47, and Bill Clinton, 69 — gathered to pay their respects to the late boxing icon on June 10. The 74-year-old, who passed away on June 3 from septic shock due to unspecified natural causes, will undoubtedly be missed, which was evident from the estimated 100,000 people who showed up to his funeral and even lined the streets.
The memorial service, which took place at the KFC Yum! Center was late to start after the funeral procession began nearly 90 minutes after its scheduled start time. And what a funeral procession it was! With Will Smith, ex-boxer Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson, Larry Holmes, and George Foreman as pallbearers, onlookers lined the roadside waved, took photos, and chanted “Ali, Ali” as his coffin was driven through the downtown area.
But while Muhammad’s funeral procession was certainly epic, his actual funeral was larger than life — just like the boxer himself. Both former President Clinton and Billy Crystal, 68, will delivered eulogies, and you better believe they were both beautiful and emotional.
But first to speak was Dr. Kevin Cosby, the senior pastor of St Stephen Church and president of Simmons College of Kentucky. “He dared to love black people at a time when black people had a problem loving themselves,” Kevin said of Muhammad. “He is the property of all people, but he is product of black people in their struggle to be free.”
And after a brief remembrance from Ali’s daughter, Rasheda Ali, longtime friend and comedian, Billy, took the stage. He spoke about how Muhammad got him his first television appearance and what the boxer meant to him. One of Billy’s last, heartfelt remarks even brought the crowd to its feet, “[He] taught us that life is best when you build bridges between people and not walls.”
— ABC News (@ABC) June 10, 2016
When it was Bill Clinton’s turn, he declared Muhammad “a universal soldier for our common humanity.” In his touching speech, he addressed how important of a figure the boxer was, and always will be. “The first part of his life was dominated by the triumph of his truly unique gifts. We should never forget them,” the former president said.
“But the second part of his life was more important because he refused to be imprisoned by the disease that kept him hamstrung longer than Nelson Mandela was kept in prison in South Africa. In the second half of his life he perfected gifts that we all have. Every single solitary one of us have gifts of mind and heart.”
— CBSN (@CBSNLive) June 10, 2016
The gold-medal-winning Olympic boxer was admitted to the hospital on June 2 for difficulty breathing. He was initially believed to be ok until reports surfaced the next day that he was “barely breathing” and in grave condition while on life support. SO sad.
Muhammad passed away on June 3 surrounded by family and friends. And the athlete had been ill for a while as he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease back in 1984, a syndrome that can be caused by repeated blows to the head from something such as boxing.
Our thoughts are with Muhammad’s family and friends during this very difficult time.