Bill Clinton Among Notables Tapped to Eulogize Muhammad Ali at Public Funeral
Muhammad Ali will be mourned at a public funeral in his native Louisville, Kentucky next week, where banner names will be giving the legendary fighter's eulogy.
Former President Bill Clinton, entertainer Billy Crystal and journalist Bryant Gumbel will eulogize the boxing great on Friday.
In a fashion befitting a man who captivated the world with his spirit and athletic prowess, Ali's funeral will be a public affair held at the KFC Yum! Center in Lousiville, his home town.
President Clinton, who honored Ali with the Presidential Citizens Medal in 2001, released a statement on the legend's passing along with his wife and likely presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton.
"From the day he claimed the Olympic gold medal in 1960, boxing fans across the world knew they were seeing a blend of beauty and grace, speed and strength that may never be matched again.
"We watched him grow from the brash self-confidence of youth and success into a manhood full of religious and political convictions that led him to make tough choices and live with the consequences.
"Along the way we saw him courageous in the ring, inspiring to the young, compassionate to those in need, and strong and good-humored in bearing the burden of his own health challenges."
Actor Billy Crystal, a longtime friend of Ali's, performed a tribute on the occassion of the fighter's 1979 retirement. He shared video of the tribute on Twitter following his friend's death.
"For the greatest man I have ever known," Crystal wrote in his post.
A spokesman for the Ali family said he died from septic shock "due to unspecified natural causes" on Friday night.
The spokesman said Ali spent the last hour of his life surrounded by his family after he was initially hospitalized near Phoenix on Monday.
On Saturday, Ali's daughter said her father's indomintable spirit shone through even as nearly all his organs had shut down.
"For 30 minutes, his heart kept on beating," Hana Ali wrote on Instagram. "No one had even seen anything like it."
She called it a "true testament to the strength of his spirit and will."