Muhammad Ali is laid to rest (includes ways to watch live)

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The funeral procession of Muhammad Ali will begin at 9 a.m. ET. At 2 p.m. ET, a memorial service will take place in Louisville’s KFC Yum! Center.

Watch the funeral live online:

  • CBSN – starts at 1:00 pm, no cable subscription required
  • ESPN – starts at 2:00 pm, cable subscription required
  • TV ONE – starts at 2:00 pm, cable subscription required

On Friday the world was rocked by the death of Muhammad Ali. Ali was one of the greatest heavy weight boxing champions in history, who first entered the public arena after winning Olympic gold. Energetic and almost musical, he often spoke quickly in entertaining rhymes, long before the era of rap. He delighted the public, and confounded conservative journalists, who lined up to interview him.

Ali’s conversion to Islam took America, a predominantly Christian nation at that time, by surprise. His subsequent name change, from Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., to the now legendary Muhammad Ali, was a big adjustment for many Americans, and members of the press. Eventually the new name stuck in all quarters of society, and became synonymous with style, integrity and excellence. His presence on the American scene did much to familiarize and normalize Islam with the American people.

He was also a tireless and passionate civil rights activist, achieving great influence during the turbulent 1960s, when the movement was at its peak. Ironically for some, this boxer was, above all, a man of peace, who eschewed war. He took a stand against the Vietnam War, refusing Army induction in April of 1967, citing religious reasons. This was a controversial and courageous stand, leading to some negative repercussions for his career.

He was immediately stripped of his heavy weight title, and lost his boxing license as a result. He was convicted of draft evasion, fined $10,000 and sentenced to 5 years in prison, though he remained free pending the appeal of his case. The Supreme Court overturned his conviction in 1971, though by then he’d returned to boxing.

Thursday and Friday this incredibly talented athlete, and great humanitarian, will be laid to rest in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. A private ceremony takes place on Thursday, followed by a public one on Friday. Over 14,000 people have paid their respects, from all walks of life.

Many important political and cultural luminaries will attend, including singer Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stephens,) civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, and former President Bill Clinton, who will deliver the eulogy. But in true Ali style, thousands of free tickets were generously handed out to ordinary people, so some of his fans can participate the Friday service. The services are open to people of all faiths, though in keeping with his beloved religion, this is an Islamic burial, including a jenazah prayer ceremony.

The astounding array of mourners gathered to remember and celebrate his life, and commemorate his passing, are a living testament to Ali’s well-known bigness and kindness of heart. They speak to the greatness of a man who achieved towering heights in a sport known for harshness, and even at times brutality, while retaining a courageous, generous, compassionate, and benevolent nature.

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