Frankfort: One week after his death, it’s time to lay The Greatest to rest. After a motorcade winds through the Muhammad Ali’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, his family will bury the boxing legend in a private ceremony at a Louisville cemetery. After that, more than 15,000 people will commemorate Ali’s life in a public memorial.
Muhammad Ali made his final journey through his hometown Friday as thousands of mourners along the funeral-procession route pumped their fists and chanted, “Ali! Ali!” for the one-time heavyweight champion of the world known simply as The Greatest.
His cherry-red casket, draped in an Islamic tapestry, was loaded into a hearse as a group of pallbearers that included former boxers Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis and actor Will Smith left the funeral home in a double file. Ali’s nine children, his wife, two of his ex-wives and other family members joined the procession.
The 17-car motorcade set out for a Louisville cemetery on a 19-mile route that was expected to take Ali’s body past his boyhood home, the gym where he first learned to box and the museum that bears his name, via Muhammad Ali Boulevard.
Fans chanted like spectators at one of his fights, stood on cars, held up cellphones, signs and T-shirts, tossed flowers and scattered rose petals along the path of the hearse. Truckers honked their horns in salute. People gathered early in the day outside Ali’s boyhood home, which was decorated with balloons, flags, flowers and posters. Fans took photos of themselves in front of the small pink house with white trim. Some people staked out their places nearby with lawn chairs.