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Muhammad Ali’s Final Ride

Muhammad Ali’s Final Ride

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The first rose landed on the windshield of the hearse not long after the procession began on Bardstown Road.

“Aw, man,” the driver, Chase Porter, thought.

He turned on the windshield wipers. The flower smeared.

“Windshield wipers aren’t to remove flowers,” he observed.

Then there was the second flower, and the third, the fourth, and soon a cascade. Through it all, he focused on making sure the man lying in back — about two feet behind him over his right shoulder, slid into the chamber headfirst — was given a properly respectful final ride.

Porter was driving Muhammad Ali.

“Just touch it, just touch it,” spectators were saying as they reached for his vehicle, a 2016 Cadillac XTS that had been modified at a shop in Ohio to accommodate the dead. It was Hearse No. 5, part of a fleet shared by several funeral homes.

The windows were down and Porter could hear the people outside clearly. His palms sweated as he gripped the wheel. He did not want to mess this up.

Article originally published by: NYTimes