WATCH LIVE: Thousands Gather in Louisville To Pay Final Respects To Ali
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Thousands of people gathered today in Louisville, Kentucky, to pay their final respects toMuhammad Ali, chanting the boxing legend’s name as a funeral procession drove through his Kentucky hometown. Ali’s wife, two of his ex-wives and his nine children participated in the motorcade.
Family, friends and fans mingled under a clear, sunny sky, celebrating both Ali’s career as an athlete and his status as a civil rights icon. Flowers and wreaths were laid at the site of his childhood home, and participants described the mood of the affair as warm and jovial, rather than somber. Spectators threw so many red, yellow, and white flowers onto the hearse that the driver was forced to periodically switch on the windshield wipers in order to see the road.
Ali’s cherry-red casket was draped in an Islamic shroud. Will Smith, who portrayed the boxing legend in the movie “Ali,” along with former heavyweight champions Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson and three family members are pallbearers.
Ali’s funeral is expected to start at 3 p.m., an hour after it was originally scheduled, according to an Ali spokesperson.
Fifteen thousand people are expected to attend the interfaith service that will be held at theKFC Yum! Center. Former President Bill Clinton, Billy Crystal, Bryant Gumbel, and Ali’s wife, Lonnie, will give eulogies. Also expected to speak is Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch. The service is open to the public.
Poetry will be read by Attallah Shabazz, Malcolm X‘s eldest daughter, while Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to President Obama, will give a statement. Other guests of note include Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and King Abdullah II of Jordan.
The service will be led by an imam and will include clerics from multiple religions. After the service, a private reception for friends and guests is scheduled at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville.
Ali will be buried at the Cave Hill National Cemetery in Louisville. Colonel Harlan Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, is also buried there.
Ali was pronounced dead at the age of 74 late Friday night after arriving at a Phoenix hospital to be treated for a respiratory issue days before. His cause of death was “septic shock due to unspecified natural causes,” family spokesman Bob Gunnell said. He was surrounded by family when he died.
ABC News will live-stream Ali’s funeral on its website and app.