Aide to Read Letter from Obama at Ali Memorial Service

Jun 8, 2016

Credit J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

President Barack Obama won't be attending Muhammad Ali's memorial service, but he and first lady Michelle Obama are sending a letter with a close aide to be read at Friday's service.

White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett will represent the president at the service in Louisville, Kentucky. The White House says Jarrett knew Ali personally.

White House spokeswoman Jennifer Friedman says the Obamas are unable to attend because they'll be at their daughter Malia's high school graduation ceremony in Washington.

Ali family spokesman Bob Gunnell says Ali's widow, Lonnie, and Obama have spoken by phone and that she appreciated the president's "kind words and condolences."

Gunnell says two of Ali's daughters, Rasheda and Maryum, will speak at the service, as well as Islamic studies scholar Timothy Gianotti. Former President Bill Clinton, a longtime friend, will deliver the eulogy.