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Trump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to Bob Cousy

Blair Shiff

Bob Cousy went by many nicknames during his career as an NBA point guard, including "Cooz," "Mr. Basketball" and "Houdini of the Hardwood."

He has a great number of accolades from his sports career, but the now-91-year-old retired basketball and baseball player can add Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient to his resume.

Robert "Bob" Cousy was born in New York in 1928 and was the only son of French immigrants. Living in the multicultural neighborhood Astoria, Queens, he spent his formative years playing sports with kids from various ethnicities. He credits this upbringing as to why he championed race equality during his life.

One of his many well-known stands against racism was in 1950 when he was playing for the Boston Celtics, including standing up for his teammate Chuck Cooper, who was the first African-American to be drafted by the NBA, as well as Bill Russell who was often a victim of racism. Former President Barack Obama awarded Russell the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.

"Over the years, Bob has also poured his heart in countless charitable causes," Trump said during the ceremony. "He was named the Big Brother of the year in 1965, taught youth basketball and created a scholarship for underprivileged children. It's an incredible life."

Trump went on to commend Cousy for his contributions to society outside of the game of basketball.

"You've achieved so much ... it is my privilege to ask the military aide to read the citation as we present Robert "Bob" Cousy with the Presidential Medal of Freedom," Trump said.

Cousy played 13 seasons with the Celtics and won six NBA championships with them. He helped create and led the NBA Players Association and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1971.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is often bestowed on people who have made significant contributions to the United States whether through their private or public endeavors.

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Some past athletes to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom are Jesse Owens, Joe DiMaggio, Bear Bryant, Richard Petty, Arthur Ashe, Arnold Palmer, Muhammad Ali, Billie Jean King, Pat Summitt, Willie Mays, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Roger Staubach and Babe Ruth.

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