Will Smith, the actor who won an Oscar for his stunning portrayal of Muhammad Ali in the biopic Ali, will be one of the pallbearers who will carry Muhammad Ali’s coffin at his funeral on Friday.
Smith posted several behind-the-scenes pictures from the shooting of the movie over the weekend along with tributes to the great boxer, who died last week.
Smith will be joined in the task by Lennox Lewis, the former world heavyweight champion, along with six other friends and family of Ali: John Grady, Ali’s cousin; Ibn Ali, Ali’s nephew; Komawi Ali, Ali’s former brother-in-law; Jerry Ellis, brother of Jimmy Ellis, who was Ali’s former sparring partner and also a former heavyweight champion; Jan Wadell, Ali’s first cousin; and John Ramsey, Ali’s family friend, according to ESPN.
Details of the arrangements published so far suggest that the various ceremonies in Louisville, Kentucky, Ali’s hometown, will focus as much on his civil-rights stance—he famously refused to fight in Vietnam and was a key figure in the fight against racial discrimination—as his boxing achievements.
On Thursday, there will be a jenazah, or Muslim funeral prayer service, which will be open to the public, on the site of Ali’s last hometown fight in Louisville. The jenazah will take place at noon at Freedom Hall, where Ali defeated Willi Besmanoff on Nov. 29, 1961.
A total of 14,000 tickets have been made available to the public.
On Friday, the funeral will be preceeded by a procession through the town of Ali’s remains. Ali had origninally planned to lie in an open casket and allow people to file past to pay respects, but that was changed to a procession in recent weeks amidst fears for the disruption such an event might cause.
His body will be driven through the streets of Louisville, and the funeral ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. Friday at the KFC Yum! Center—a 22,000-seat basketball arena. Tickets are available at the center box office starting at 10 a.m. Wednesday; and fans can start lining up at 6 a.m.
Former President Bill Clinton is to give a eulogy at the interfaith service, which will be led by an imam but will also include representatives of other faiths.
Billy Crystal will also make an address.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and King Abdullah II of Jordan will also speak, according to CNN.
Those who can’t make it inside the arena can watch the funeral streamed live on the website for the Muhammad Ali Center.
After the funeral, Ali will be interred at Cave Hill Cemetery.
“The message that we’ll be sending out is not our message—this was really designed by the champ himself,” said Timothy Gianotti, an Islamic studies scholar who helped for years to plan the services.
“The love and the reverence and the inclusivity that we’re going to experience over the coming days is really a reflection of his message to the people of planet Earth.”
Ali died June 3 surrounded by his family. He had suffered from Parkinson’s syndrome.