WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) – President Trump awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to NBA Hall of Famer and West Virginia native Jerry West on Thursday.
West played 14 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers and eventually moved into executive positions with the Lakers, the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers.
His classic ball-handling silhouette is now the iconic NBA logo.
The 81-year-old West was known as Mr. Clutch for his ability to score under pressure.
“Over the course of his 14 NBA seasons he broke the record for the most points scored in the history of the Lakers,” said President Trump.
West rose from humble beginnings to become a Lakers’ All-Star.
During the ceremony, he recalled his West Virginia roots.
“I was a dreamer,” West continued. “My family didn’t have much, but we had a clear view of the Appalachian Mountains.”
West said chasing a dream, and a basketball, took him to the highest levels of the sport, including winning an Olympic gold medal. He finished with an NBA career average of nearly 27 points per game.
The Hall of Famer eventually moved from the court to the front office. As Lakers General Manager, West Played a key role in attracting superstars and brought four championship to LA.
“In the summer of 1996 he succeeded in securing both Kobe Vyrant and Shaquille O’Neil, two truly great players creating an unstoppable force in the NBA,” President Trump continued.
President Trump also said the contributions made outside of sports also deserve recognition.
“Jerry works harder than anyone I can imagine, helping our nation’s veterans,” President Trump said in praise of West.
While his athletic ability helped bring Jerry West numerous accolades, including his bronze statue outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles, it’s a life well played on and off the court that has earned him the nation’s highest civilian honor.