President Donald Trump on Thursday gave a presidential medal of freedom to 91-year-old basketball legend Bob Cousy, describing the star of the Boston Celtics as “one of the all-time greats in the history of sports.”

From 1950 to 1963, Cousy played for the Celtics, winning six league championships and the 1957 MVP title. He is named for the Bob Cousy Award, given to the country’s best point guard in men’s college basketball. He is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and has played a key role in establishing the NBA Player’s Association.

The 13-time NBA All-Star went on to coach basketball at Boston College after hanging up his No. 14 jersey.

“This acknowledgment allows me to complete my life circle,” Cousy said during the Oval Office awards ceremony. “I can stop chasing a bouncing ball. The Presidential Medal of Freedom allows me to reach a level of acceptance in our society I never once ever dreamed of.”

Trump spoke about Cousy’s life during the Great Depression and discovered his basketball skill at a young age. Cousy’s chairman said he never forgot the guidance of his first mentor to never be predictable, and jokingly added, “Hey, I’ve heard that lesson too.”

The president acknowledged Cousy’s accomplishments on and off the court, lauding his assistance for underprivileged youthful professionals and speaking out against racism.

Cousy, who is white, ardently supported his black teammates who faced discrimination during the civil rights movement. Still, Cousy lamented in Gary Pomerantz’s biography “The Last Pass: Cousy, Russell, the Celtics, and What Matters in the End,” that he didn’t do more for his black teammates, including 2011 Medal of Freedom recipient Bill Russell.

President Donald J. Trump presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, to legendary Hall of Fame Boston Celtics basketball player Robert “Bob” Cousy on Aug. 22, 2019, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Shealah CraigheadOfficial White House Phot0)

The Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, celebrates individuals for their “especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the U.S., to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

Trump credited West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin for suggesting the medal be given to Cousy.

Cousy is the second Medal of Freedom recipient this year. Trump presented the award to golfer Tiger Woods in May.

Cousy is the 10th honoree under Trump, who is Cousy’s candidate of choice in the 2020 presidential election.

Cousy described himself as being politically moderate in a recent interview with He said that while he disagrees with some of the actions of the president, he plans to vote for Trump next year.

During the award ceremony, Cousy said the medal was made all the more special because it had been presented by the “most extraordinary” president in his lifetime.

“I know in your world, you’re well on your way to making America great again,” Cousy told the president. “In my world, it’s been great for 91 years. Only in America could my story have been told.”

Includes reporting from the Associated Press