Boston Celtic legend and greatest NBA champ of all time Bill Russell was awarded the Medal of Freedom today in a White House ceremony.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the United States' highest civilian award. The Medal of Freedom recognizes men and women who have "made an especially meritorious contribution to (1), the security or national interests of the United States, or (2) world peace, or (3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."
The White House's official statement:
Bill Russell is the former Boston Celtics’ Captain who almost single-handedly redefined the game of basketball. Russell led the Celtics to a virtually unparalleled string of eleven championships in thirteen years and was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player five times. The first African American to coach in the NBA—indeed he was the first to coach a major sport at the professional level in the United States—Bill Russell is also an impassioned advocate of human rights. He marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and has been a consistent advocate of equality.