Tom Hanks and Michael Jordan among Obama’s last Medal of Freedom picks

Bruce Springsteen, Diana Ross and Ellen DeGeneres also among 21 athletes, philanthropists and entertainers chosen to receive highest civilian honor in US

In one of his final acts in office, Barack Obama selected key figures in sports, entrepreneurship, philanthropy, activism, academia and entertainment among the 21 people who will be awarded the 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom the highest civilian honor in the US.

Obama will present recipients including rocker Bruce Springsteen, Motown soul singer Diana Ross, former basketball champions Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and actors Tom Hanks, Robert De Niro and Robert Redford with the medal at a White House ceremony on 22 November, the White House said on Wednesday.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is not just our nations highest civilian honor its a tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change this country for the better, Obama said in a statement.

The medal is given annually to people who have made outstanding contributions to the security or national interests of the US, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

This years roster also includes Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda for their philanthropic foundation, TV talkshow host Ellen DeGeneres, veteran actor Cicely Tyson, architect Frank Gehry and baseball broadcaster Vin Scully.

The group also includes several not so well known Americans, such as late Native American community leader Elouise Cobell and Nasa moon landing computer scientist Margaret H Hamilton.

Obama leaves office in January after eight years, following the election of Republican businessman Donald Trump.

Previous recipients of the medal from Obama include baseball champion Yogi Berra, singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, director Steven Spielberg and former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/16/presidential-medal-of-freedom-tom-hanks-michael-jordan-obama

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