Muhammad Ali's hometown of Louisville honors the late boxer as 'our inspiration'

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Muhammad Ali's Hometown Honors the Late Boxer

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali died of septic shock after spending five days at an Arizona hospital for what started out as respiratory problems and gradually worsened, succumbing only after his wife and children arrived at his bedside to say goodbye, family spokesman Bob Gunnell said Saturday.

SEE ALSO: Muhammad Ali, 'The Greatest of All Time', Dies at 74

"It was a solemn moment," Gunnell told reporters in Phoenix.

The details came as Ali's family revealed plans for a Friday funeral in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, a daylong affair that will include a procession through the streets where he grew up and learned to box. The service will include eulogies from former President Bill Clinton, journalist Bryant Gumbel and comedian Billy Crystal. He'll be buried in a local cemetery with only family watching.

Back in Louisville, the city lowered flags in mourning and prepared to welcome him home one last time.

Outside the Muhammad Ali Center, locals created an impromptu memorial, leaving flowers and written tributes.

A few blocks away at Louisville Metro Hall, Mayor Greg Fischer marveled at the many outsize roles Ali embodied: sports champion, civil rights icon, humanitarian and "interfaith pioneer."

"The Louisville Lip spoke to everyone," Fischer said, referring to the dismissive nickname the press gave the boastful Ali early on his career. "But we heard him in a way no one else could, as our brother, our uncle and our inspiration."

See photos of Muhammad Ali through the years:

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Muhammad Ali through the years
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Muhammad Ali's hometown of Louisville honors the late boxer as 'our inspiration'
Eighty-five pound Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., is shown posing at twelve, prior to his amateur ring debut in 1954, a three minute, three round split decision over another novice named Ronnie O'Keefe, in Louisville, Kentucky. (AP Photo)
Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay) of Louisville, Ky., member of the West team in Golden Gloves action in New York on March 21, 1960, leads with a right against Gary Jawish of Chevy Chase, Md., in their heavyweight championship bout. Ali won by TKO in the third round. (AP Photo/John Lent)
Cassius Clay, 18-year-old from Louisville, Ky., throws a right at Tony Madigan of Australia, left, during the light heavyweight boxing semi-finals at the Summer Olympic Games in Rome, Italy, Sept. 3, 1960. Clay won the bout with all five votes of the judges. (AP Photo)
A trio of U.S. boxers wear gold medals at the Olympic village in Rome, Sept. 6, 1960. From the left are: Wilbert McClure of Toledo, Ohio, light middleweight; Cassius Clay of Louisville, Kentucky, light heavyweight; and Edward Crook of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, middleweight. (AP Photo)
19-year old Cassius Clay, last year's Olympic gold medalist who recently turned professional, connects with a straight right to the jaw of Kolo (Duke) Sabedong during a 10-round heavyweight bout in Las Vegas, Nevada June 26, 1961. Clay, who maintains he will be world champion before he turns 21, scored a unanimous decision, to run his professional winning streak to seven straight. Clay, of Louisville, Ky., weighed in at 197 1/2 lbs., while Sabedong, of San Francisco, Calif., tipped the scales at 226. (AP Photo)
Young heavyweight fighter Cassius Clay is seen at City Parks Gym in New York, Feb. 8, 1962. (AP Photo/Dan Grossi)
Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay) (right) lands on Don Warner's jaw in an early exchange of their fight in Miami Beach, Fla., February 28, 1962 with a straight right. It was the same punch which knocked Warner through the ropes in Round 4 and headed him for a technical knockout as the fight was stopped soon after he climbed back to the canvas. (AP Photo)
FILE - In this Nov. 15, 1962, file photo, young heavyweight boxer Cassius Clay, who later changed his name to Muhammad Ali, points to a sign he wrote on a chalk board in his dressing room before his fight against Archie Moore in Los Angeles, predicting he'd knock Moore out in the fourth round, which he went on to do. The sign also predicts Clay will be the next champ via a knockout over Sonny Liston in eight rounds. He did it in seven rounds. Ali turns 70 on Jan. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Harold P. Matosian, File)
Young boxer Cassius Clay is seen with his mother, Odessa Grady Clay, April 2, 1963, at an unknown location. (AP Photo)
Cassius Clay, young heavyweight fighter, thrusts his fist out, Feb. 19, 1964, as he tells a crowd at Surfside, Fla., how he'll hit champion Sonny Liston in their upcoming bout at Miami Beach. Clay and his followers paid an unexpected visit to Liston's Surfside camp. (AP Photo/Harry Harris)
Sonny Liston, right, lowers his head and works in close during 6th round of heavyweight championship fight with Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay) in Miami Beach, Fla. on Feb. 25, 1964. Liston suffered a cut left eye and a strained left shoulder before the fight was stopped at the end of the round. (AP Photo)
American boxer and sometime actor Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay) as Eric Sevareid interviews him during an episode of the CBS Evening News, New York, March 24, 1964. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)
World heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali is held back by referee Joe Walcott after Ali knocked out challenger Sonny Liston in 1 minute, 42 seconds of the first round of the scheduled 15 round championship bout in Lewiston, Maine, May 25, 1965. (AP Photo/stf)
Muhammad Ali reacts after the referee stopped the bout between Ali and European champ Karl Mildenberger, Sept 10, 1966, in Frankfurt, Germany. Ali won by technical knockout. (AP Photo)
Muhammad Ali lands with a left to the head of Ernie Terrell in the seventh round of their 15-round heavyweight championship fight in Houston, Tex., Feb. 6, 1967. Ali battered Terrell throughout the entire fight to win by a unanimous decision. (AP Photo)
Former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali sits in the back seat of a limousine with his wife Belinda after he was released from Dade County jail in Miami, Dec. 23, 1968. Ali served 8 days of a 10-day sentence on a 1967 traffic charge. He was among 50 prisoners released early on Christmas amnesty. (AP Photo/Harold Valentine)
Muhammad Ali delivers a hard right to Jerry Quarry on October 26, 1970 in a scheduled 15 round fight at Atlanta, Ga. Ali was declared the winner after Quarry didn't answer the bell for the fourth round. Quarry had a gash over his left eye that required 11stitches to close. (AP Photo/Joe Holloway Jr.)
Muhammad Ali holds his 2 year old daughter, Maryum Ali, while waiting to tape a show for ABC "Wide World of Sports" in New York on Oct. 29, 1970. With the fighter is his wife, Belinda. (AP Photo/ Anthony Camerano)
Muhammad Ali has his right cocked as he punishes the heavy bag with lightning-quick lefts during training in Miami Beach, Fla, on Monday March 4, 1971 for his heavyweight title fight with champion Joe Frazier in New York. (AP Photo)
Muhammad Ali lands a blow to the face of Jimmy Ellis in the 11th round of their 12-round heavyweight fight in Houston on July 26, 1971. Ali landed blows freely in the 11th round and the fight was halted in the 12th round with Ali getting a TKO. (AP Photo)
FILE--Muhammad Ali lies on canvas after being knocked down by heavyweight champion Joe Frazier in this March 8, 1971 file photo. The heavyweight championship fight between Frazier and Ali was billed as The Fight, and 25 years later, it still is The Fight, secure in its place in boxing legend. (AP Photo/File)
Former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali tells European heavyweight champ Joe Bugner, seen Dec. 18, 1972, that he will stop him in seven rounds in their 12-round match in Las Vegas on Feb. 14. (AP Photo)
Muhammad Ali, right, winces as Ken Norton hits him with a left to the head in their scheduled 12-round re-match, Sept. 10, 1973 at the Forum in Inglewood, California. (AP Photo)
Muhammad Ali, left, and Joe Frazier in the 12 round non-title fight that took place at Madison Square Garden in New York, January 28, 1974. (AP Photo)
FILE - In this Oct. 30, 1974 file photo, Challenger Muhammad Ali watches as defending world champion George Foreman goes down to the canvas in the eighth round of their WBA/WBC championship match in Kinshasa, Zaire, on Oct. 30, 1974. Foreman was counted out by the referee and Ali regained the world heavyweight crown by knockout in the bout dubbed "Rumble in the Jungle." (AP Photo/File)
**FILE** Spray flies from the head of challenger Joe Frazier, left, as heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali connects with a right in the ninth round of their title fight in Manila, Philippines, Oct. 1, 1975. Ali won the fight on a decision to retain the title. (AP Photo/Mitsunori Chigita, File)
Heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali gets in a little road work escorted by two automobiles and a police cruiser in a park in Greenbelt, Maryland, April 28, 1976. He will fight challenger Jimmy Young in a championship bout on Friday. (AP Photo/Bob Daugherty)
World heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali waves with his fists behind the balance during weigh-in ceremony on May 23, 1976 in Munich for his upcoming title fight against British champion Richard Dunn on May 24, 1976 in Munich?s Olympic hall. (AP Photo)
Heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali knocks challenger Ken Norton back with a right hand punch in the 14th round of their title fight Tuesday night, September 28, 1976. Ali retained his title with a decision win in the 15-round fight in New York's Yankee Stadium. (AP Photo)
Heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali prepares his right as he jabs at challenger Leon Spinks with his left during the first round at their 15-round title bout at the Hilton Pavillion in Las Vegas, Nev., Feb. 16, 1978. (AP Photo)
Muhammad Ali, noted mouthpiece of the boxing world, has to listen here as heavyweight champion Leon Spinks has the floor for a word during their contract signing in New Orleans, April 11, 1978. The fighters will meet on September 15 in the Superdome. (AP Photo)
Former heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali, right, trades punches with a Soviet boxer in one of three two-round unscored exhibition bouts on Tuesday, June 20, 1978 in Moscow. Afterwards, Ali said he thought that he had lost one of the bouts, and added on an uncharacteristic modest note: ?Me, I?m finished. My day is over. I?m going on guts and courage and native ability.? (AP Photo/Yurchenko)
Muhammad Ali ponders a question at news conference following his WBA heavyweight title bout with Leon Spinks in New Orleans on Friday, Sept. 16, 1978. Ali regained his title with a 15-round unanimous decision. ?Thank God it?s over,? said Ali. (AP Photo)
LAS VEGAS - OCTOBER 2,1980: Muhammad Ali (L) throws a punch against Larry Holmes during the fight at Caesars Palace, on October 2,1980 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Larry Holmes won the WBC heavyweight title by a RTD 10. (Photo by: The Ring Magazine/Getty Images)
Trevor Berbick, left, and Muhammad Ali seem to have an equal reach as they slug it out during a Friday night boxing match on Dec. 12, 1981 in Nassau, Bahamas. Berbick won the 10 round bout with a unanimous decision. (AP Photo)
JUL 14 1981; Ali, Muhammad (Boxer) - Ind.; (Photo By Lyn Alweis/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, clowns around as he takes a "punch" to the nose by the Rocky Marciano award during a photo session at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York, Nov. 19, 1984. The award was presented to Ali during the organization's annual Salute to Boxing Greats. (AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler)
Muhammad Ali watches as the flame climbs up to the Olympic torch during the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics Friday, July 19, 1996, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Doug Mills)
Muhammad Ali poses with Dream Team members from left: Scottie Pippen, Hakeem Olajuwon, Reggie Miller, Shaquille O'Neal, Karl Malone and Gary Payton after receiving the gold medal, which replaces the 1960 gold medal he lost, during half time ceremonies at the gold medal game of basketball competition at the Centennial Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta Saturday, August 3, 1996. IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch presented the medal to Ali. (AP Photo/Eric Draper)
Muhammad Ali playfully spars with a photographer while on a tour bus to visit Alain Leroy Locke High School, Tuesday, December 3, 1996, in South-Central Los Angeles. Ali visited two high schools and the Watts Labor Community Action Committee to promote his new book, "HEALING: A Journal of Tolerance and Understanding," with co-author Thomas Hauser. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Muhammad Ali, known as "The Greatest," poses next to a Wheaties "The Breakfast of Champions" poster during the unveiling of the 75th Anniversary cereal box in his honor in New York, Thursday Feb. 4, 1999. "Muhammad Ali is quite possibly the most recognized sports figure of our time," said Wheaties market manager Jim Murphy. "That's why we are especially proud to recognize him on our box during our 75th anniversary celebration." (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Johnny Grant, right, honorary mayor of Hollywood, reaches over to shake the hand of Muhammad Ali after the boxing legend's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was unveiled Friday, Jan. 11, 2002, in Los Angeles' Hollywood district. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Actor Will Smith applauds as he presents the humanitarian award to boxing great Muhammad Ali during the 2nd Annual BET Awards Tuesday, June 25, 2002, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Former heavyweight boxing legend Muhammad Ali waves to the crowd below as his daughter IBA super middleweight champion Laila Ali, touches him after they unveiled a new giant three-paneled wallscape in the Harlem neighborhood of New York, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2004. (AP Photo/Ed Bailey)
Muhammad Ali listen to fans as he prepares to promote his latest book "The Soul Of A Butterfly," co-authored with his daughter Hana Ali, in Harlem, New York, Wednesday Dec. 1, 2004. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2005 file photo, President Bush presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to boxer Muhammad Ali in the East Room of the White House. He is now so much a part of the nation's social fabric that it's hard to comprehend a time when Ali was more reviled than revered. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
** FILE ** Golf great Arnold Palmer, left, greets boxing legend Muhammad Ali, center, and Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade, right, prior to the coin toss at the Orange Bowl football game between Wake Forest and Louisville Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2007, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Former boxing heavyweight champion of the world Muhammad Ali watches from the audience during the opening plenary of the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting Wednesday, Sept 24, 2008 in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
Producer Jerry Weintraub, left, greets Muhammad Ali at the UNICEF Ball honoring Weintraub in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
Muhammad Ali waves to the crowd during Muhammad Ali Celebrity Fight Night XVII on Saturday March. 19, 2011, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)
Retired boxing champion Muhammad Ali, center, is presented with the Liberty Medal by his daughter Laila Ali, right, as his wife Lonnie Ali, left, looks on during a ceremony at the National Constitution Center, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, in Philadelphia. The honor is given annually to an individual who displays courage and conviction while striving to secure liberty for people worldwide. His sister-in-law Marilyn Williams is at right. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Former boxing legend Muhammad Ali arrives for the coin toss prior to the start of the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football game between Florida and Louisville on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
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Ali, who had suffered for more than three decades from Parkinson's disease, had survived several death scares in recent years, so when he was admitted Monday with breathing problems his family expected him to rebound, Gunnell said.

Then things turned serious, and it became clear that he wasn't going to improve, Gunnell said.

His family traveled to his bedside, where they remained for about a day before Ali died at 9:10 p.m. local time on Friday. The official cause of death was "septic shock due to unspecified natural causes," Gunnell said.

One of his daughters, Hana Ali, recalled his final moments with family by his side, hugging and kissing him and holding his hands as they chanted Islamic prayers.

"We all tried to stay strong and whispered in his year, 'You can go no. We will be okay,'" Hana Ali wrote on Twitter.

Even after his other organs failed, his heart kept beating for 30 minutes, she wrote.

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Ali grew up on Grand Avenue in a middle-class but black section of Jim Crow-era Louisville, and was inspired to box at 12 by a police officer who heard him ranting about someone who'd stolen his bicycle. The racism he absorbed there as a child influenced the political stands he made years later. But he remained continued to return to Louisville as his legend grew, and the city embraced him.

See the devastating social reactions to Ali's death:

24 PHOTOS
Social reactions to Muhammad Ali's death
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Muhammad Ali's hometown of Louisville honors the late boxer as 'our inspiration'
Our father was a "Humble Mountain!" And now he has gone home to God. God bless you daddy. YOU ARE THE LOVE OF MY LIFE!
The Greatest Man that ever lived. Daddy my best friend & my Hero You R no longer suffering & now in a better place. https://t.co/IASO4u3Ikn
R.I.P to the World's Greatest #MuhammedAli #Legend
Goodbye my friend. You were Great in so many ways. https://t.co/4rY68GF8mB
Paul on the passing of Muhammad Ali: https://t.co/AfhcmeL4Vq https://t.co/2wuQdrAtJf
Muhammad Ali was the greatest, not only an extraordinary athlete but a man of great courage and humanity.
I wish this year would stop already it's just to much. https://t.co/QoIwdvWzvL
I met him a few times . And he was always the funniest guy in the room. So sad. https://t.co/gl6hjV7Y0W
Ali, the G-O-A-T. A giant, an inspiration, a man of peace, a warrior for the cure. Thank you. https://t.co/MCLyJhLC0X
God came for his champion. So long great one. @MuhammadAli #TheGreatest #RIP https://t.co/jhXyqOuabi
My thoughts & prayers go out to Muhammad Ali's family. My long statement is posted on https://t.co/3E8awvpT08 https://t.co/aEVzMacHg0
For the greatest man I have ever known. https://t.co/OUZHVZWBHY
Today my heart goes out to a pioneer, a true legend, and a hero by all means! Not a day went by entering the gym that I didn't think of you. Your charisma, your charm and above all, your class are all of the elements that will be greatly missed by myself and the world. You are someone that inspired me greatly throughout my boxing journey and words cannot express how great you were as a person! Thank you for everything you've done for Black America, in the the world of sports & entertainment and for the legacy you leave behind! My sincerest condolences to the Ali family!
"I'm so fast, I can turn off the light and hop in the bed before the room gets dark." RIP Muhammad Ali #GOAT
You will always be my hero ... #MuhammadAli https://t.co/Rbp7Be3JAK
I had the honor of knowing #Muhammad Ali. He was simply The greatest inspiration to the whole world. Sad sad day.
God bless the greatest forever the greatest. A true hero. A man of conviction and love
Ali, you were generous every time I met you. Thank you for all you did for so many. Your memory will live on forever #Olympicgold #GOAT
Ralph Ali, Frazier & Foreman we were 1 guy. A part of me slipped away, "The greatest piece" https://t.co/xVKOc9qtub
R.I.P Muhammad Ali...so saddening #WorldsGreatest #Legendary
The original GOAT is gone. I will never forget his vast legacy and the time he showed me a magic trick. #MuhammadAli Forever!!
#RIPMuhammadAli - one of the most powerful, courageous, passionate souls to walk this earth.
The Champion of Champions! In the most brutal of sports he was all beauty and grace. #MuhammadAli
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At the Muhammad Ali Center on Saturday, CEO Donald E. Lassere read a statement from the institution, which said Ali "will be remembered for his love for all people, his athleticism, his humanitarian deeds, social justice and perhaps mostly his courage in and out of the ring."

Lassere added, "And I'm sure Muhammad would want me to say this as well: he would want to be remembered for how pretty he was."

Fischer asked his audience outside Metro Hall to imagine what it must have been like to witness Ali, born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. in 1942, as an infant — his long, remarkable life still ahead of him.

SEE ALSO: Float Like a Butterfly: Muhammad Ali's Life in Pictures

"Imagine that day, that little boy, eyes wide open, looking around the the room at the old Louisville General Hospital, not knowing the life that awaited him, the life he would make, the world he would shake up, and the people he would inspire," Fischer said. "And like you, I am absolutely one of those people."

The mayor added: "Muhammad Ali belongs to the world, but he only has one hometown."

To accentuate that point, Fischer pointed out some of the many honors and titles Ali accrued in his post-boxing career: Amnesty International lifetime achievement award, Presidential Medal of Freedom, Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Century, and co-founder, with his wife, Lonnie, of the Muhammad Ali Center, created to "promote respect, hope and understanding in Louisville and around the world."

Earlier on Saturday, a spokesman for Ban Ki-moon, secretary general of the United Nations, which named Ali a "messenger of peace" in 1998, called him "a world champion for equality and peace."

The spokesman recalled Ali first connecting with the U.N. in the 1970s to campaign against apartheid and racial injustice. Later, Ali traveled the world for the U.N. to support children's initiatives and racial and political reconciliation.

"The United Nations is grateful to have benefited from the life and work of one of the past century's great humanitarians and advocates for understanding and peace," the statement said.

More from NBC News:
Global tributes to Muhammad Ali
Looking back at the greatest fights of Ali's career
Ali: Remembering the life of a sports legend

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