Louisvillians will never forget the day they said goodbye to their beloved hometown hero and son. Locals and visitors lined city streets on June 10 to pay homage to the boy born Cassius Clay who grew up in the Parkland neighborhood and turned into the prize-fighting champion and humanitarian Muhammad Ali, a citizen of the world.
Thousands of people gathered to pay their final respects to Ali, during a 23-mile funeral procession. Fans chanted, threw flowers on a hearse carrying Ali, took pictures and slapped hands with Ali family members, friends and pallbearers including the actor Will Smith.
The procession began at the A.D. Porter Funeral Home (4501 Bardstown Road), traveled on the expressway and exited on Ninth Street, with a view of the Muhammad Ali Center. Then it made its way to the street named for him, Muhammad Ali Boulevard. The procession went west toward Ali’s childhood home on Grand Ave. Making a left at 34th street, the procession proceeded to Broadway, then east to Cave Hill Cemetery for a private burial. Dedicated in 1848, Cave Hill (701 Baxter Ave.), is one of Louisville’s oldest cemeteries and an integral part of the legacy of the Louisville community.
After the private burial, a public celebration of Ali’s life took place at the KFC Yum! Center. Eulogists included representatives from different faiths, including local clerics Dr. Kevin W. Cosby of St. Stephen Church and Rabbi Joe Rooks Rapport of The Temple, Lonnie Ali, journalist Bryant Gumbel, actor Billy Crystal, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R), and former President Bill Clinton.
Citizens and visitors watched the memorial service on large screens set up at the Belvedere and in the lobby of the Kentucky Center for Performing Arts.