Will Smith, who earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination for portraying Muhammad Ali in “Ali” (2001), was one of the pallbearers at the boxing legend’s funeral Friday in Louisville, KY. Watch some of the emotional funeral proceedings above.
Smith lost the Oscar that year to Denzel Washington (“Training Day”), though he did take home the MTV Movie Award and BET Award for his flawless portrayal of Ali. Supporting player Jon Voight was also nominated for the film as sports journalist Howard Cosell, but was bested by Jim Broadbent (“Iris”).
At the time, Smith received near-unanimous praise from critics for taking on Ali. Peter Travers (Rolling Stone) wrote, “Smith molded his lean body into 220 pounds of heavyweight muscle and nailed the champ’s verbal strut.” And Elvis Mitchell (The New York Times) said, “Mr. Smith captures Ali’s musicality, pausing in mid-syllable while ranting and exhaling to punch things up and turn even a joke into something operatic.”
Ali, a three-time World Heavyweight Champion, died on June 3 after a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 74. Other than Smith, other notable attendees for Ali’s funeral included Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Billy Crystal, Bryan Gumbel and Bill Clinton.
Smith later returned to the Oscar derby in 2006 for “The Pursuit of Happyness,” losing out to Forest Whitaker (“The Last King of Scotland”). He was a major contender at this year’s Oscars for “Concussion,” but ended up getting passed over for Bryan Cranston (“Trumbo”), Matt Damon (“The Martian”), Michael Fassbender (“Steve Jobs”), Eddie Redmayne (“The Danish Girl”) and eventual winner Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Revenant”).