LOUSIVILLE, Kentucky (AA) – A funeral procession for Muhammad Ali began in his hometown here Friday on the final day of services for the ‘people’s champ’.
The procession will travel through the city’s center on a 18-mile (30-kilometer) route, taking Ali’s body and more than a dozen accompanying vehicles to the street named after him, a museum that stands as a tribute to his sports and humanitarian accomplishments and to his childhood home.
The casket will then be taken to the Cave Hill Cemetery where Ali will be laid to rest.
Crowds have lined up Louisville streets and rooftops along a section of interstate to watch the procession, estimated to take 90 minutes to complete.
Will Smith, who played Ali in the 2001 eponymous biopic drama, and former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis will be among the pallbearers, according to the family.
A memorial service will be held later at the Kentucky Yum! Center, where a number of speakers including former U.S. President Bill Clinton will eulogize the “people’s champ”.
Ali began preparing the details of his own funeral service a decade ago, said family spokesman Bob Gunnell, and the plans were made public in advance.
In accordance with Ali’s wishes, organizers distributed thousands of free tickets to the service that can be viewed online at alicenter.org.
Nearly 15,000 are expected to attend the service that will include eulogies by comedian Billy Crystal, sportscaster Bryant Gumbel and family members. Ali’s wife, Lonnie, who was married to the champ for 30 years and at the time of his death, will also deliver remarks.
Ali died last Friday after decades of a very public fight against Parkinson’s disease. He was 74.