Former Boston Celtic Bob Cousy spoke after President Donald Trump presented him with the Medal of Freedom. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, D.C. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Former Boston Celtics great Bob Cousy was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom Thursday.
President Trump presented the 91-year-old Cousy with the nation's highest civilian honor in a ceremony at the White House.
"You're one of the all-time greats in the history of sports—not just basketball—and an inspiration to us all," Trump said. "Today, America honors and celebrates everything that you have achieved. You have achieved so much, and even beyond basketball."
Cousy played for the Celtics from 1950 to 1963, and won six league championships, along with a 1957 MVP award.
Off the court, Cousy fought for racial equality, and helped create the NBA Players Association.
Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern led the Massachusetts Congressional delegation in recommending Cousy for the award.
He's the second Celtic to be awarded the medal, after President Barack Obama awarded it to Cousy's former teammate, Bill Russell, in 2011.
Cousy was full of jokes throughout his remarks.
"Thank you, Mr. President, for those kind words," Cousy said in his opening. "However, if I'd known I was gonna be eulogized, I'd have probably done the only decent thing and died for you."
He described how his education at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester helped guide him to "reach out in your communities and help in any way you can those who are less fortunate, those who need a boost," and said he's always tried to do that to the best of his ability.
He told President Trump the acknowledgement allowed him to "complete my life circle," and that he was grateful.
"I know in your world, you're well on your way to making America great again," Cousy said. "In my world, it's been great for 91 years. Only in America could my story have been told. I'm here to say that I'm easily the most fortunate, lucky SOB on the planet."