White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett hailed Muhammad Ali at the boxing legend's funeral Friday, reading a tribute from President Obama commemorating the civil rights hero.
Obama couldn't attend because he was in Washington, D.C., for his daughter Malia's high school graduation. Jarrett said she was selected to attend because she knew Ali for 45 years. 
Obama's letter hailed Ali as a "radical," describing him as "a loud and proud and unabashedly black voice in a Jim Crow world."
"Muhammad Ali was America, Muhammad Ali will always be America," Jarrett read from the letter, calling the former three-time world heavyweight champion "brash, defiant, pioneering, joyful."
"He was our most basic freedoms: religion, speech, spirit," she continued, reading the letter. "He embodied our ability to invent ourselves."
"His life spoke to our original sin of slavery and discrimination and the journey he traveled help to shock our consciousness and lead us to a roundabout path toward salvation," she continued. 
"And like America, he was always very much a work-in-progress," Jarrett said, saying it would be an injustice to the icon to "gauze-up his story" and "sand down his rough edges."
Jarrett said Ali sometimes "swung a bit wildly" and could "accidentally wrong the wrong opponent" as he'd admit. 
Rev. Kevin Cosby, a pastor in Louisville and the ceremony's first speaker, invoked Martin Luther King Jr. in his remarks on MLK speaking of his mother instilling in him "a sense of somebodiness," with Cosby remarking on hundreds of years of "nobodiness" for people of color. 
Ali "took the ethos of somebodiness to unheard heights," said the pastor, who is African-American. "He dared to love black people at a time when black people had a problem loving themselves." 
Ali was buried Friday at a cemetery in Louisville, Ky.,, after a car carrying his remains drove through his hometown and thousands along the miles-long processional route chanted his name and threw flowers on his hearse. 
Jarrett said her uncle's son was one of the pallbearers, with others including actor Will Smith, Mike Tyson and former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis.