President Donald Trump awarded the Medal of Freedom to basketball legend Jerry Alan West of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Born in West Virginia, West played at West Virginia University before playing for the Lakers in Los Angeles. West played 14 seasons in the NBA for the Lakers, making the all-star team every year.
“In the years that followed, he was to become a legend and made plays that will be remembered forever,” Trump said. “I know many of them.”
Trump recalled when West rallied his team in Game 3 of the NBA finals in 1962 back to tie the game and scored right before the end of the game, earning the nickname “Mr. Clutch.”
After his career as a player, he became a legendary general manager for the Lakers during their triumphant domination of the sport in the 1980-2000s.
“Jerry is one of the greatest negotiators, managers, and executives in the history of the NBA,” Trump said. He also highlighted West’s charitable efforts in Los Angeles and West Virginia and his work with veterans.
He is also nicknamed as “The Logo,” as his silhouette is still featured in the NBA logo today.
West was accompanied at the Oval Office ceremony with members of his family and one close friend from West Virginia University. Chris Wallace, the Chief Communications Officer for the Los Angeles Clippers also attended.
“I was a dreamer,” he said, addressing the group. “My family didn’t have much, but we had a clear view of the Appalachian Mountains. And I’ve had several on our front porch and wonder if I ever make it to the top of that mountain. Will I see on the other side? Well, I did make it to the other side. My dreams have come true.”
West Virginia officials Governor Jim Justice and Sen. Joe Manchin also joined the president for the ceremony.