Billy Crystal, a close friend of Muhammad Ali, eulogized the boxing legend at his memorial service in Louisville, Kentucky yesterday. Affectionately called “little brother” by the Greatest, Crystal’s eulogy was peppered with funny and amusing stories about the duo, whose friendship traced back to Crystal’s first big break as a stand-up at an event honoring Ali in 1974. “He was funny, he was beautiful, he was the most perfect athlete you ever saw, and those were his own words,” Crystal joked.
Crystal, who compared Ali to Shakespeare and Picasso, also broke out his famous impression of the late boxer in-between his other touching sentiments. “Last week when we heard the news, time stopped. There was no war, no terrorists, no global catastrophes,” he continued. “The world stopped and took a deep breath and sighed … he was a tremendous bolt of lightning, created by Mother Nature out of thin air.” Ali passed away on June 3 at the age of 74.