The Panamanian Mariano Rivera, a former New York Yankees player and one of the legends of baseball, received on Monday the Medal of Freedom from the president of the United States, Donald Trump, who called him “the greatest closer in history “Of that sport.
Rivera, 49, who nationalized in 2015, stressed his “pride of being an American” while recording his difficulty to integrate into the country when he arrived from Panama without speaking English.
Before devoting himself to sports, he had worked with his father as a fisherman and studied to become a mechanic.
Rivera was the first major league player to be elected unanimously in baseball’s Hall of Fame.
Born in Puerto Caimito, a small Panamanian town, he was discovered with just 20 years by a scout of the Yankee organization in Panama discovered and proposed to play in the United States.
With the New York team he won five World Series titles, he was the most valuable player in the 1999 World Series, he participated in 13 Star Games and in 2003 he was the most valuable in the American League.
In a statement issued by the White House, the presidential press office noted the work “off the field through the Mariano Rivera Foundation, which has offered education and inspiration to low-income children, supporting them to achieve a better future”.
Rivera, Trump’s personal friend for years, is the co-chair of the Presidential Council on Nutrition, Activity and Nutrition.
He is the fifth athlete awarded the Freedom medal since Trump became president in 2017 along with golfer Tiger Woods; basketball players Jerry West and Bob Cousy; and American football Roger Staubach.