After bringing him to life on the big screen in the Oscar-nominated 2001 biopic Ali, Will Smith will help lay boxing superstar Muhammad Ali to rest on Friday, serving alongside Lennox Lewis as a pallbearer at the late legend’s funeral.
Per a press release, eight people will serve as pallbearers at Friday’s service in Louisville, Kentucky, the icon’s home town. Smith and Lennox will join a group that includes Ali’s nephew Ibn Ali-Muhammad, Jerry Ellis (brother of Ali’s former sparring partner, Jimmy Ellis), family friend John Ramsey, the boxer’s former brother-in-law Komawi Ali, and Ali’s cousins, John Grady and Jan Wadell. A day of remembrance is planned in Louisville, which will reportedly feature a procession around the city, a prayer service at Freedom Hall, and a memorial ceremony at the KFC Yum! Center at 2 p.m. ET. The interfaith service will also include eulogies delivered by Bill Clinton, Billy Crystal, Bryant Gumbel, and Ali’s widow, Lonnie.
Ali died June 3 of septic shock in Phoenix, Arizona at the age of 74 after being hospitalized for complications relating to Parkinson’s disease.
Smith, who earned a Best Actor Academy Award nomination for playing Ali in the Michael Mann drama Ali, paid tribute to the legendary boxer via Facebook, writing, “You shook up the World! My Mentor & My Friend. You changed my Life. Rest in Peace” on Saturday.
Smith previously spoke of Ali’s influence on his career during Sports Illustrated‘s Sportsperson of the Year awards ceremony 2015
“For nearly two years, I worked to transform myself into the man who changed his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali and shook up the world,” the 47-year old actor said. “And that’s really what makes my job so beautiful as an actor — for four, five months at a time I get to wear peoples’ lives. So I got to wear Muhammad Ali’s greatness. I got to study and feel and embody the soul of the man, from the foundations of Islam and the strength of his Muslim faith in his life, to the beautiful wake that he always leaves in his magnificent path… Muhammad Ali is a champion for civil rights. He is a champion in the fight against injustice. He is a champion for utilizing whatever tools he has to make the world a better place.”
Watch Smith’s full tribute to Ali in the video below.