Pat Summitt, who is stepping down as the University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach, will receive the Medal of Freedom, the White House announced today.
Summitt announced Wednesday that she would retire after being diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s last summer.
“Coach Summitt is an inspiration, both as the all-time winningest NCAA coach, and as someone who is willing to speak so openly and courageously about her battle with Alzheimer's,” President Obama said in a statement.
The nation’s highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom is “presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors,” according to White House.
Other honorees will be announced later this year.
“Pat's gift has always been her ability to push those around her to new heights, and over the last 38 years, her unique approach has resulted in both unparalleled success on the court and unrivaled loyalty from those who know her and those whose lives she has touched,” Obama said. “Pat's coaching career may be over, but I'm confident that her work is far from finished. I look forward to awarding her this honor.”
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