*Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson took a red-eye flight from Las Vegas to Louisville, Kentucky on Friday to serve as a pallbearer for Muhammad Ali, joining former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, actor Will Smith and members of Ali’s family.
Ali family spokesman Bob Gunnell said Tyson wasn’t sure whether he would attend the service because of a prior commitment. He said Tyson was highly emotional when he learned of Ali’s death and wasn’t sure whether he could handle the emotions of Ali’s memorial.
Thousands are expected to pay their final respects to Ali during a processional Friday morning that will wind through the boxing legend’s hometown of Louisville.
The 19-mile procession will tour landmarks in Ali’s life, including his childhood neighborhood and the gym where he began his boxing training. The route also passes the Muhammad Ali Center and Muhammad Ali Boulevard, which was named in his honor in 1978.
Seventeen cars will make up the procession, including the hearse carrying Ali. After the procession, Ali’s body will be buried in a private ceremony at Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville.
In keeping with Islamic tradition, “Ali” will be the single word inscribed on the headstone for the Champ, Gunnell said.
As previously reported, the public memorial service for Ali will be held at the KFC Yum! Center at 2 p.m. today. Speakers expected for the service include former President Bill Clinton, actor Billy Crystal, journalist Bryant Gumbel, Ali’s daughter Maryum Ali and representatives from multiple faiths.
About 300 celebrities and dignitaries will be among the 15,500 in the crowd, Gunnell said.
On Thursday, the Jenazah, a traditional Muslim funeral prayer service, was held at Freedom Hall in Louisville with 14,000 tickets distributed. After the public prayer service, Ali’s family observed a private funeral.
Ali, a three-time heavyweight champion, died June 3 in the Phoenix area at age 74. He designed the two-day memorial in exacting detail years before his death.