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Scoop: Ali’s hometown joins together in prayer and celebration

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Parishioner Gail Smith prays against the backdrop of a mural during a service at King Solomon Missionary Baptist Church where Muhammad Ali’s father worshipped and where Ali would occasionally accompany him, Sunday in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Muhammad Ali’s younger brother wept, swayed to hymns and hugged anyone he could reach. He raised his hands to the sky, eyes closed, surrounded by congregants at the church where their father once worshipped.

Rahaman Ali took center stage at the two-hour, high-energy service at King Solomon Missionary Baptist Church, sitting in a front-row pew with his wife, Caroline. The church is not far from the little pink house in Louisville’s west end where the Ali brothers grew up.

It was one of several emotional remembrances Sunday as the city joined together to mourn its most celebrated son, the Louisville Lip. Later this week, politicians, celebrities and fans from around the globe are expected for a Friday memorial service that Ali planned himself with the intent of making it open to all.

Ali’s body was returned Sunday to his hometown for the final time.

At his father’s church, the congregation stood in tribute, prayed for the former three-time heavyweight champion and his family.

“There is no greater man that has done more for this city than Muhammad Ali,” said the church’s assistant pastor, Charles Elliott III.

Muti returns to La Scala stage

Riccardo Muti received two standing ovations upon his return to La Scala’s stage Sunday after an 11-year absence, not to conduct this time but to discuss his nearly two decades as music director at the fabled opera house.

“Welcome home,” someone shouted from the upper tiers.

Muti’s last appearance in 2005 was to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic in a benefit concert just weeks after abruptly stepping down after 19-years as music director amid backstage turmoil.

“What I can say is that the return to this room and this audience is reason for great emotion,” Muti told the audience. “Even if I am one who doesn’t let his emotions be seen on the outside.”

Turtle power failure

Turtle power isn’t all that strong the second time around, according to comScore estimates Sunday, but not all is bleak at the box office. While many of the season’s sequels continue to struggle, the healthy debut of the romantic drama “Me Before You” proved that there is room for more than superheroes in the summer.

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” won the box office, but its estimated $35.3 million debut is not exactly cause for a celebratory pizza party.

Happy birthday

Rapper Queen Key is 19. … Actress Ellie Kendrick (“Game of Thrones”) is 25. … Skateboarder Andrew Reynolds is 37. … Journalist Natalie Morales is 43. … Bassist and vocalist Tom Araya (Slayer) is 54. … Actor Robert Englund (“Nightmare on Elm Street”) is 68.

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