Thousands from near and far are expected to line the streets of Ali's native city of Louisville in the southern US state of Kentucky to bid goodbye to the three-time heavyweight world champion who died last week at 74 after a decades-long battle with Parkinson's.
     
Starting at 9 am (1300 GMT), the funeral procession will wind through the city of 600,000 where Ali was born at a time of racial segregation.
     
It will pass sites that were important to 'The Greatest': His childhood home, the Ali Center, the Center for African American Heritage -- which focuses on the lives of blacks in Kentucky and, of course, along Muhammad Ali Boulevard before arriving at the Cave Hill Cemetery for a private burial.
     
Actor Will Smith, who earned an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Ali on the silver screen and former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis will be among the pallbearers.

An anonymous individual has pledged to cover the path to the grave with red rose petals.

Friday afternoon, Ali will be honored at an interfaith memorial service at a large sports arena that will bring together heads of state, VIPs and fans alike. Some 15,500 people are expected to attend with free tickets given out in a half-hour and a black market for the coveted tickets sprouting online.
     
Former president Bill Clinton and comedian Billy Crystal will eulogize Ali, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be in attendance. Barack Obama will not be present at the funeral of the man he calls a "personal hero" since it coincides with his daughter Malia's graduation.
     
But the president published a video message Thursday in which he displayed two mementoes gifted to him by 'The Champ', a book of photographs and a set of gloves, which have accompanied him through his time in the White House.

"This week we lost an icon," Obama said in the Facebook message. "A person who for African Americans, I think, liberated their minds in recognizing that they could be proud of who they were."

"I grew up watching him. I grew up having my identity shaped by what he accomplished," he said.

"The incredible gestures of love and support that he showed me was one of the great blessings of my life."

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