President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 panel plans to subpoena Trump lawyer who advised on how to overturn election Texans chairman apologizes for 'China virus' remark Biden invokes Trump in bid to boost McAuliffe ahead of Election Day MORE awarded the Medal of Freedom to legendary NBA player Bob Cousy during a ceremony at the White House on Thursday.
Trump welcomed Cousy, a former member of the Boston Celtics, to the Oval Office on Thursday afternoon to award him the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Trump recognized Cousy for his NBA career in addition to his work organizing the NBA Players Association and as a leading advocate for racial equality.
“Throughout his career, he was a voice against prejudice racism and bigotry,” Trump said during remarks in the Oval Office. Trump called Cousy an “all-time great” and an “inspiration to us all.”
Cousy thanked Trump after receiving the medal, joking, “If I’d known I was going to be eulogized I would probably have done the only decent thing and died for you.”
“Mr. President, I know in your world you’re well on the way to making America great again. In my world, it’s been great for 91 years. Only in America could my story have been told,” Cousy said, calling himself the “most lucky S.O.B. on the planet.”
He choked up as he spoke about his family and called Trump “the most extraordinary president in my lifetime.”
Cousy, 91, played 13 seasons with the Boston Celtics in the 1950s and 60s, leading the team to six NBA championships and winning the title of Most Valuable Player in 1957.
Cousy joins other athletes, including golfer Tiger Woods most recently, who have been awarded the Medal of Freedom.
Cousy, who has been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, was joined Thursday by several members of his family, including his daughters and grandchildren.
Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by American Clean Power — Dems see path to deal on climate provisions Overnight On The Money — Senate Democrats lay out their tax plans Overnight Health Care — Presented by Altria — FDA advisers endorse Pfizer vaccine for kids MORE (D-W.Va.), a close friend of Cousy’s who advocated for him to receive the medal during a meeting with Trump last year, attended the ceremony. Cousy recognized him during his remarks, saying Manchin was “directly responsible” for his presence at the White House.
Manchin said that he and Trump called Cousy to discuss the award and that Cousy initially refused to take the call because he thought it was a joke when he was told “the White House is calling.”
“It’s been a team effort to make this happen and I was happy I could be a part of this,” Manchin said.