Some of the biggest names in sports, politics and entertainment have converged on Louisville, Kentucky, Friday to honor “The Greatest.”
Three-time heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, who died last week after a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease at the age of 74, will be laid to rest in his childhood hometown Friday morning, and a who’s who of stars and dignitaries are attending or participating in the daylong services or eulogizing the sports and civil rights icon.
Former President Bill Clinton, actor and comedian Billy Crystal, and “Real Sports” host Bryant Gumbel are scheduled to deliver eulogies at the public memorial service at the KFC Yum! Center in downtown Louisville.
Leaders and politicians, both foreign and domestic, will also be in attendance. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and King Abdullah of Jordan were each confirmed to attend, according to the Courier-Journal, even after both were scheduled to speak but later ruled out. Also expected are a top adviser to President Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett, as well as former Kentucky Gov. John Y. Brown Jr. and former Louisville Mayor Harvey Sloane.
Actor Will Smith, who portrayed the boxer in the 2001 film “Ali,” as well as former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis will serve as pallbearers.
Lewis is among many stars from the world of boxing expected to attend, including those Ali defeated in the ring long ago. Former heavyweight champion George Foreman, whom Ali upset in “The Rumble in the Jungle” in Zaire more than 40 years ago, Larry Holmes, Sugar Ray Leonard, Bernard Hopkins, and Top Rank CEO and boxing promoter Bob Arum will all be present to honor Ali.
Former heavyweight titleholder Mike Tyson joins Foreman and Holmes as honorary pallbearers.
— Sara Wagner (@WHAS11Sara) June 10, 2016
A service began at A.D. Porter & Sons Funeral home at 9 a.m. ET, and the funeral procession is currently winding its way through Louisville and passing Ali’s childhood home, the city’s African American Heritage Foundation, and the Muhammad Ali Center before reaching Cave Hill Cemetery for a private burial.
Free tickets to attend the memorial service were grabbed within 30 minutes. While 18,000 are expected to be in attendance for the services, thousands more have lined the Louisville streets.
Supporters and fans of Ali have covered his childhood home with flowers, photos and placards to pay their respects.
— Thomas Linder (@TDtommy77) June 10, 2016
The public memorial service will begin at 2 p.m. ET at the KFC Yum! Center. A live stream of the public memorial service can be viewed at alicenter.org here.