The White House announced on Thursday that President Donald Trump will award the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to NBA basketball legend Bob Cousy.

The 13-time NBA All-Star and six-time NBA champion went from humble circumstances to a legendary basketball career (via

Like many other NBA greats, Cousy made his entrance into basketball because of a twist of fate that occurred when he was a youngster. The son of poor French immigrants, Cousy grew up a “ghetto rat” on Manhattan’s East Side. While very young, he played stickball and boxball and stole hubcaps. When his moonlighting, cab-driving father was able to stash away $500, the family bought a house in the St. Albans neighborhood of Queens, New York. There, Cousy traded in his broomstick for a roundball.

Still new to the sport, Cousy was cut twice from the Andrew Jackson High School junior varsity team. At the age of 13, he fell out of a tree and broke his right arm. So he did what any other kid would have done: he learned how to dribble and shoot with his left arm. When his former coach, Lou Grummond, saw the ambidextrous youngster playing in neighborhood leagues, he invited him back on the team. Grummond needed a playmaking guard, and Cousy fit the bill.

A star was born. In only a year and a half on the varsity squad Cousy became the most talked-about kid in town. As a senior he won the city scoring championship, securing the title by tallying 26 points in the final game of the season.

Known as the “Houdini of the Hardwood,” Cousy was, among other things, a prolific passer.

Following his decorated career in the league, Cousy became the head coach at Boston College before returning to the NBA as coach of the Cincinnati Royals (now the Sacramento Kings).

He turned 91 earlier this month.

Cousy is the third sports figure to be designated as a Medal of Freedom recipient this year and second from the NBA. 15-time major champion golfer Tiger Woods was awarded the medal in May, and President Trump says basketball legend Jerry West (whose silhouette is on the NBA’s logo) will also be receiving the award.