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Basketball Hall of Famer Bob Cousy reflects on his Jesuit education at Medal of Freedom ceremony

BOB COUSY
MANDEL NGAN | AFP
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The legendary Celtics guard credits College of the Holy Cross for success on and off the court.

Upon receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Donald Trump on Thursday, legendary Boston Celtics guard Bob Cousy credited his Catholic education for making the most of his talents and sharing his gifts with those in need.

The 91-year-old Cousy, the son of poor French immigrants, grew up in New York City during the Great Depression, where after leading his high school basketball team to a division championship, he earned a scholarship from the Jesuit College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. 

Cousy, who went on to help bring the Holy Cross Crusaders win the NCAA tournament championship in 1947, said that the lessons he learned at the Catholic institution have guided him throughout his life.

“I discovered some God-given skills to play a child’s game and landed, without much of a moral code other than the law of the streets, at the College of the Holy Cross — then and now, one of the finest liberal arts schools in the country,” said Cousy.

“My Jesuit mentors advised, ‘Maximize your God-given skills in the areas of your choice, then reach out in your communities and help those who are less fortunate.’ And to the best of my ability, I’ve tried to do that,” he said.

President Trump hailed Cousy for his support of his teammates in the NBA, where he led the Boston Celtics to six championships in seven seasons, earning himself a spot in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in 1971. 

“Throughout his long career, Bob was a voice against prejudice, racism and bigotry,” Trump said.

“In 1954, Bob organized the NBA Players Association, a first-of-its-kind union for major American sports. He was elected the association’s first president, and fought for better working conditions and a more reasonable schedule for players.”

Bob Cousy
Public Domain

The Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian honor in the United States, and recognizes the “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.”

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