The Presidential Medal of Freedom is a highly regarded award given to a select group of citizens every year by the President. It’s the highest civilian award in the United States, and is specifically given to individuals who made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors”.
In past years, many prominent athletes, celebrities, Silicon Valley heads, and philanthropists have received the award. On Wednesday, President Obama announced the 21 citizens who will be given his final round of Presidential Medals of Freedom.
The list includes some big time athletes and celebrities: Vin Scully, Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elouise Cobell, Ellen DeGeneres, Robert De Niro, Richard Garwin, Bill and Melinda Gates, Frank Gehry, Margaret H. Hamilton, Tom Hanks, Grace Hopper, Maya Lin, Lorne Michaels, Newt Minow, Eduardo Padron, Robert Redford, Diana Ross, Bruce Springsteen, and Cicely Tyson.
Obviously, the big three sports related recipients are former Dodgers’ announcer Vin Scully, Bulls legend Michael Jordan, and Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. On the entertainment side, it’s surprising to see people like Lorne Michaels and Bruce Springsteen haven’t received the honor before.
All 21 medals will be presented at the White House on November 22nd.
In recent years, many prominent athletes have been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama. They include the following:
2015 – Yogi Berra, Willie Mays
2014 – Charles Sifford
2013 – Ernie Banks, Dean Smith
2012 – Pat Summitt
2011 – None
2010 – Stan Musial, Bill Russell
2009 – Billie Jean King
Vin Scully to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Nation’s highest civilian honor.
— Mayor of Los Angeles (@MayorOfLA) November 16, 2016
— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) November 16, 2016