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Thousands of people crowded the streets of Louisville on Friday to pay their final respects to boxing legend Muhammad Ali. He died last week at age 74.

A hearse carried Ali’s body, followed by nearly a dozen black Cadillacs carrying his family and close friends on a nearly 20-mile procession through Louisville’s West End before stopping at Cave Hill Cemetery, where he will be buried.

ali car1Jacob Ryan | wfpl.org

“The Greatest” rolls down Louisville’s 9th Street. Crowd chants “Ali, Ali.”

Michael Holt (left) and Robert Rose wait for the procession in a shady spot along 9th Street.Jacob Ryan | wfpl.org

Michael Holt (left) and Robert Rose wait for the procession in a shady spot along Ninth Street.

“He was the greatest to me, and I love him, man, with all my heart,” Michael Holt said.

A group of kids from "Children R First" wait for the procession outside of the Louisville Urban League on W. Broadway.Jacob Ryan | wfpl.org

A group of kids from “Children R First” wait for the procession outside the Louisville Urban League on West Broadway.

ali processionJacob Ryan | wfpl.org

Xavier Presley, 60, from Miami, says Ali inspired his own stance on Vietnam.

Victor Frazer (left), Tiger Francis (center) and Adeyani Ruffstarr (right) came from D.C. to pay respects to Ali.Jacob Ryan | wfpl.org

Victor Frazer (left), Tiger Francis (center) and Adeyani Ruffstarr (right) came from D.C. to pay respects to Ali.

“I know wherever he goes he’s going to fight negativity, he’s going to fight everything that’s been negative on this earth, and he’s going to be that strong spirit that’s going to take all that negativity and fight it off,” said Adeyemi Ruffstar of Washington, D.C.

Mourners lined the 9th Street divide in Louisville waiting on the Ali procession.Jacob Ryan | wfpl.org

Mourners lined the 9th Street divide in Louisville waiting on the Ali procession.

The procession began on Bardstown Road and headed down the Watterson Expressway to Interstate 65. It then drove south on Ninth Street to Muhammad Ali Boulevard, eventually passing Ali’s boyhood home on Grand Avenue before turning onto Broadway and on to Cave Hill Cemetery.

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.