Muhammad Ali made his final journey through his hometown Friday—past the little pink house where he grew up and the museum that bears his name—as thousands of mourners along the route pumped their fists and chanted, "Ali! Ali!" for the former heavyweight champion of the world known simply as The Greatest. A hearse bearing Ali's cherry-red casket, draped in an Islamic tapestry, arrived at Louisville's Cave Hill Cemetery in a long line of black limousines after a 19-mile drive via Muhammad Ali Boulevard that was both somber and exuberant, the AP reports. "He stood up for himself and for us, even when it wasn't popular," said Ashia Powell, waiting at a railing for the hearse to pass by on an interstate highway below.
A private graveside service was held in the afternoon, and was to be followed later in the day by a grand memorial service attended by more than 15,000 people, including former President Bill Clinton and comedian Billy Crystal. The casket was loaded into a hearse outside a funeral home as a group of pallbearers that included former boxers Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis and actor Will Smith filed out, along with Ali's nine children, his wife, two of his ex-wives, and other family members. As the limousines rolled past on the way to the cemetery, fans chanted like spectators at one of his fights, stood on cars, held up cellphones and signs, ran alongside the hearse and reached out to touch it. They tossed so many flowers onto the windshield that the driver had to pull some of them off to see the road. Click for more on Ali's send-off. (Read more Muhammad Ali stories.)