He was legend. Will Smith served as a pallbearer at Muhammad Ali’s memorial service in Louisville, Kentucky, on Friday, June 10, and the actor felt nothing but “love” as he helped to honor the late athlete’s life.
“Every age was out there,” he told Entertainment Tonight of Ali’s memorial service, which was open to 15,000 members of the public. “It was beautiful. It was absolutely … ‘celebration’ is the right word.”
Smith, 47, joined the likes of boxers Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis to escort Ali’s body throughout his hometown, and the Ali actor revealed that the men shared stories about the boxing champ early on in the day.
“We all sat around, you know — Tyson, Lewis, and a lot of Ali’s family and me — for about an hour,” Smith said. “We all just told the stories and our memories. You know, for me, it’s just humbling to be able to be here with the family in this time of need. He lived the perfect example of how a human being is supposed to live their life. It was beautiful.”
Smith portrayed the legendary heavyweight champ in the 2001 biopic, Ali, for which he was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar.
Ali’s daughter, Laila, told ET that her late father and Smith had a special bond. “He appreciated the great job that Will Smith did playing him,” she said. “My father appreciates the role that Will Smith played.”
Ali died at a Phoenix-area hospital on Friday, June 3, at the age of 74, after battling a respiratory issue.
Former president Bill Clinton, actor Billy Crystal and news and sports anchor Bryant Gumbel delivered eulogies at the funeral.