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Muhammad Ali buried after final journey through hometown

By Madison Park CNN

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (CNN) -- Muhammad Ali's funeral procession traveled through his hometown, passing by his childhood home to the first boxing gym where he trained -- the places where the legendary boxer spent his early, formative years.

After the roughly two-hour procession, The Greatest was laid to rest early Friday afternoon.

That was followed by an afternoon memorial service at the KFC Yum! Center, where former President Bill Clinton, sportscaster Bryant Gumbel and comedian Billy Crystal were among those to deliver eulogies. Clinton awarded Ali the Presidential Citizens Medal in 2001. Both Crystal and Gumbel shared a friendship with the boxer that spanned decades.

The service, which began shortly after 3 p.m. ET, is being streamed live from www.alicenter.org.

Befor the service, throngs of supporters lined the streets of Ali's final journey through Louisville. The 16- to 18-car procession passed the Ali Center, went by his childhood home, weaved past Central High where he graduated and then continued to the Columbia Gym where he first trained.

It ended at the Cave Hill Cemetery, where he was buried in a private ceremony.

Actor Will Smith, who played the title role in the 2001 film "Ali," and former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis were among eight pallbearers, according to organizers.

Ali died at the age of 74 a week ago. Three days of funeral proceedings began Wednesday with a downtown festival called "I Am Ali."

It was Ali who planned his own funeral, laying out plans several years back. True to his giant character, he wanted it as open as possible -- with a chance for his fans to say goodbye. Several of the events, including Thursday's prayer service, Friday's procession and memorial service, were made available to the public.

At the memorial service, eulogies also were planned by Ali's widow Lonnie Ali, his daughter Maryum Ali, University of Louisville student Natasha Mundkur and family friend John Ramsey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also was expected to attend the ceremony.

The KFC Yum! Center arena holds up to 22,000 people. Many of the public attendees started lining up on Tuesday for a chance to get tickets.

The high demand fueled scalpers who were trying to profit from selling funeral tickets. Ali family spokesman Bob Gunnell had called their attempts to cash in "despicable" and "deplorable."

The service embraced many religious faiths including an opening reading from the Quran by scholar and the family's religious adviser Iman Shakir. Then a Protestant minister, two rabbis, a representative from the Catholic Church, a representative from the Buddhist religion and Sen. Orrin Hatch (representing the Mormon faith) were scheduled followed by a poetry reading.

World Heavyweight Boxing Champion and pallbearer Lennox Lewis told CNN that Ali gave an enduring message to kids.

"It was a serious time in American history," Lewis said. "And he taught, he gave a lot of young kid and kids that have no money, he gave them hope and he told them that they were beautiful as well. So everyone can remember Muhammad Ali using that term -- 'You're beautiful.'"

CNN's Steve Almasy and Euan McKirdy contributed to this report.

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