Watch Billy Crystal’s Wonderful Eulogy For Muhammad Ali
Comedian and actor Billy Crystal had been close friends with Muhammad Ali for many years, beginning with his appearance at an event honoring the legendary boxer in 1974. That moment — featured on ABC — helped launch Crystal’s career, and the comedian and boxer remained friends until Ali passed away last week. A special service was held for Ali last night in Louisville, Kentucky, where Crystal spoke at length about his dearly departed friend, delivering a eulogy that was equal parts heartwarming and humorous.
You can watch Crystal’s full eulogy above — it’s a little over 14 minutes long, but worth every second. He begins by joking about the length of the service, which lasted for several hours: “Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. We’re at the halfway point. I was clean shaven when this started.” Crystal took the stage about three hours into the event, during which time family and friends mourned the loss of Ali and paid tribute to the renowned boxer.
Crystal went on to share memories of Ali, who was never shy about his own talents: “He was funny, he was beautiful. He was the most perfect athlete you ever saw — and those were his own words.”
As President Obama said in his own remembrance last week, Ali was always the first to tell people he was the greatest, but what set him apart was that “pretty much everyone else would tell you the same thing.” Ali wasn’t boasting — he was telling the truth. He was more than a great boxer; he was a great human being. During his eulogy, Crystal described how Ali inspired others during the Vietnam war:
But he was so much more than a fighter, as time went on. With Bobby Kennedy gone, Martin Luther King gone, Malcolm X gone, who was there to relate to, when Vietnam exploded in our face? There were millions of young men my age, eligible for the draft for a war we didn’t believe in, all of us huddled on the conveyor belt that was rapidly feeding the War Machine. But it was Ali who stood up for us by standing up for himself.
That’s just a small sample of Crystal’s full eulogy, which you should take the time to watch today — you know, just in case you need a good cry or a reminder of how wonderful people can be.