Billy Crystal Muhammad Ali Funeral Video: Watch Eulogy From Memorial Service
Ali died last week at age 74 after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. As funeral arrangements were made according to the boxing icon’s wishes, Crystal was invited to be one of the speakers at the public memorial service held at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky. The funeral follows a procession through the city’s streets and a private burial at a local cemetery.
Crystal delivered his eulogy in front of 15,000 people, among them dignitaries, celebrities, and thousands of Ali fans. He began by noting that the first time he met Ali was when he did an impression of him on a TV show. Crystal remembered being nervous, but the boxer loved the impersonation and the two became fast friends. “Every one of his fights had the aura of a super bowl,” the actor-comedian recalled. “He predicted the round that he would knock someone out in, and then he would do it!”
Crystal went on to describe Ali as “brilliant, funny and inspirational,” and then joked, “Those were his own words.” He continued, “He never lost his sense of humor, even as he lost everything else,” before going into his impression of Ali, which included the line, “I’m so fast I can turn off the lights and be in my bed before the room turns dark.”
The actor expressed how he and Ali “were always there for each other,” and the boxer always supported him throughout the years. “My favorite memory perhaps was 1979,” said Crystal. “He had just retired, and there was a retirement party attended by 20,000 people.” Crystal explained that he did his impression of Ali at the party, but admitted that despite the giant crowd in attendance, “I was doing it only for him.”
“He was a tremendous bolt of lighting created by mother nature out of thin air,” added Crystal. “He struck us in the middle of America’s darkest night… And his internal light shined on America and we were able to see.” Crystal continued, “Ali forced us to take a look at ourselves. He taught us that life is better when you build bridges between people, not walls.” Crystal further expressed that people like Ali only come around “once in a thousand years,” comparing him to legends like Motzart, Picasso and Shakespeare. “And yet, at his heart, he was still a kid from Louisville,” the actor noted.
Crystal concluded, “He is gone, but he will never die. He was my big brother.” Gossip Cop has the full video of Crystal’s eulogy below.