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Ali’s funeral set for Friday in hometown of Louisville

Photo by Corbin Carson/KTAR

Funeral arrangements were announced Saturday for Muhammad Ali who died Friday night at HonorHealth Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center.

In an afternoon press conference, family spokesmen Bob Gunnell said the boxing great’s funeral will be held Friday in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

“Muhammad’s extraordinary boxing career incorporated half of his life,” Gunnell said. “The other half was committed to sharing a message of peace and inclusion with the world. Following his wishes, his funeral will reflect those principles and be a celebration open to everyone.”

Gunnell added that Ali’s celebration of life will begin on Thursday with a private family ceremony. He said the family will gather Friday at the funeral home for a prayer service, before a large funeral procession through the streets of Louisville. The procession will take Ali through the streets of his hometown for one final time, and take him past landmarks including the Muhammad Ali Center and travel down Muhammad Ali Boulevard.

The procession will also take him through his old neighborhood for the last time where iconic photos of him were taken after his 1960 Summer Olympic victory.

Ali will be buried during a private ceremony following the funeral procession and an interfaith memorial service will take place Friday afternoon at the Yum Center. Former president Bill Clinton, Bryant Gumbel and Billy Crystal are expected to give eulogies.

“Muhammad Ali was truly the people’s champion and his celebration will reflect his devotion to people of all races, and religious backgrounds,” Gunnell said.

Ali, 74, died at 9:10 p.m. Friday with the official cause of death being septic shock due to unspecified natural causes. He had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease since 1984. Ali’s body is expected to leave the Valley within the next 24 to 48 hours.

Gunnell added that Ali became ill on Monday and was hospitalized later that night in fair condition. He said the family expected Ali to battle back like he’s done so many times before, but his condition started to worsen, at which time his family was called.

He added that doctors told them over the past 24 hours that his condition would not improve, and at that time family members including his daughters, son and wife began to say their final goodbyes.

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