Mourners at Muhammad Ali’s Funeral Reflect on the GOAT

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Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

In the hours before the KFC Yum Center filled with mourners for Muhammad Ali’s memorial service, thousands congregated in the plaza outside the arena in downtown Louisville. Young and old, black and white, dressed in funeral attire and street-corner T-shirts, we were united by a love of the city’s greatest son, who’d go on to become one of the world’s most famous athletes. This is why they came.

Crystal Stokes
“I’ve never in my life met this man, but I’ve loved him for many years because he is strong in his convictions, so kind and gentle. He always reminded me of my daddy, and they favored each other other, so growing up I always loved him.”

Photo: Adam Raymond

Chris Saunders
“He was a big influence on me, not just because of the boxing, but because of his defiant political stance during the Vietnam war. I love that he was from my hometown and believe he was the greatest man to walk the earth.”

Photo: Adam Raymond


Vincent Henderson
“I was browsing through the paper and saw these on sale at a local grocery store. The ‘float like a butterfly, sting like a bee’ idea came after. I went to a craft store and with a little hot glue, I was done.”

Photo: Adam Raymond

Auggie Centeno, Marc Centeno, and Patricia Cunanan
“I drove from Chicago. Took the day off. I wouldn’t have done that for anyone else. He was my idol.”

Photo: Adam Raymond

Terry Zimmerman
“His personality, his humanitarianism, all the things he did for the community — he did so much for people, even when he was retired.”

Photo: Adam Raymond

Jim Rates
“He stood for his convictions when everyone was running to Canada. I volunteered to go to Vietnam, but I never held anything against him. I did what I had to do. He did what he wanted to do. Other people get angry at him for that. It’s makes me angry at them.”

Photo: Adam Raymond

Kacy Jackson
“He was the voice, not only for people from Louisville, but from all around the world. His death has brought so many of us together.”

Photo: Adam Raymond


Akilah Cherry, Caleb, Cason, and Chloe
“I think it’s important for them to see firsthand what he meant to our community, in real time. They don’t have to Google it or look on YouTube. When I was little my father would talk about him and I thought, ‘That’s how I want to be when I grow up.’”

Photo: Adam Raymond

Sarah Flood-Bauman
“I think he was an amazing ambassador for the city of Louisville. He was an amazing figure and and an amazing man.”

Photo: Adam Raymond


Jevon Barber
“He gave me the confidence to never give up. He gave me the confidence to be the greatest.”

Photo: Adam Raymond