Yesterday, Muhammad Ali was laid to rest in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.
Outside the KFC Yum! Center where his memorial was held, the mood was all but somber as thousands of fans lined the street to cheer, chant and toss flowers to the passing hearse.
Inside, however, the feel transitioned to one of sadness as eulogies were delivered by former President Bill Clinton, actor/producer Billy Crystal, Bryant Gumbel and Ali’s wife, Lonni Ali.
Senior adviser to the President, Valerie Jarrett spoke on behalf of President Obama who could not attend because of Malia Obama’s high school graduation.
He was “not just a Muslim, or a black man, or a Louisville kid,” Jarrett said. “He wasn’t even just the greatest of all time. He was Muhammad Ali. The whole is far greater than the sum of its parts.”
The service was led by an imam and included clerics from multiple religions.
“Religions have different names, and yet they all contain truth” said Attallah Shabazz, Malcom X’s eldest daughter who recited a poem at the ceremony. “Truth expressed in different ways and forms and times. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Muslim, a Christian or a Jew. When you believe in God, you should believe all people are part of one family.”
At the closing of the service, Ali’s casket was ushered into the hearse by Will Smith, Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis along with other members of the Ali family.
Common, Jessie Jackson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ray Lewis were among various celebrities and athletes who attended the public memorial service.
Legendary boxer and civil rights activist Muhammad Ali died at 74 on June 3rd, 2016 in a Phoenix-area hospital after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.