Celebrities Flock to Muhammad Ali's Memorial Service
Former boxers Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis and actor Will Smith served as pallbearers and the star-studded memorial service saw eulogies from President Bill Clinton, Billy Crystal and Bryant Gumbel.
The Greatest made his final journey through his hometown in a funeral procession carrying Muhammad Ali's casket to Louisville's Cave Hill Cemetery on Friday. After a private graveside service, an interfaith memorial service at the KFC Yum! Center in downtown Louisville, Kentucky began, where former President Bill Clinton, Billy Crystal and TV journalist Bryant Gumbel eulogized the Champ.
The memorial service was held at a sports arena packed with celebrities, politicians and athletes, including Spike Lee, Arnold Schwarzenegger, David Beckham, Whoopi Goldberg and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Celebrity attendees pulled up to a VIP side entrance at the KFC Yum! Center.
They were greeted by cheers from onlookers standing about three rows deep. Former heavyweight champion boxers Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis and actor Will Smith, who portrayed Ali in the 2001 big-screen biopic Ali directed by Michael Mann, served as pallbearers. Tyson was added at the last moment to the list of pallbearers. Gunnell said that Tyson was upset about Ali's death and wasn't sure if he could handle the memorial, but ended up catching a late flight.
That was only the beginning of the celeb parade, as rapper/actor Common, former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, Today's Matt Lauer, NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown and boxing promoter Don King arrived soon after.
Most exited their limos away from fans and the media, but Abdul-Jabbar did step out and wave to the crowd, unable to hide his 7-foot-2 frame.
The crowd applauded as President Clinton, one of several people set to give a eulogy, arrived.
President Barack Obama was unable to make the trip because of his daughter Malia's high school graduation. Valerie Jarrett, a senior White House adviser, planned to read a letter from Obama at the service.
Rumors that Donald Trump would attend were quashed Friday morning when Gunnell said the Republican presidential candidate called Ali's wife, Lonnie, to inform her that he was unable to make it.
As the interfaith service got underway, the crowd of up to 15,000 burst into applause and chanted, "Ali! Ali!" when a Muslim religious leader welcomed the audience to "the home of the people's champ."
Louisville police estimate that more than 100,000 people turned out for Muhammad Ali's funeral procession in his hometown.
Fans of the three-time heavyweight boxing champion lined the streets Friday for an emotional goodbye to The Greatest. The miles-long procession spanned his life — from his boyhood home to the boulevard that bears his name and the museum that stands as a lasting tribute to his boxing triumphs and his humanitarian causes.
1:15 p.m. PT: Updated