Obama awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to Michael Jordan

Obama awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to Michael Jordan

21 Americans from divers fields - sports, entrepreneurship, philanthropy, entertainment, academia, activism and the arts were presented with the 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour in the United States.

"There are many people who helped me to become who I am (...) Everyone here moved me in a powerful way, personally, as you can not imagine", were the words of President during the ceremony.

Abdul-Jabbar told CBS News that it was his racial and religious identity, not his athleticism, that played a prominent role in his life.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said on Tuesday that Obama personally selected recipients, who he described as "richly deserving".

He said it's also easy to forget that she had risked her career almost 20 years ago when she came out as gay.

"They haven't let me into the White House yet because I forgot my ID", she tweeted.

Bill and Melinda Gates was also recognized, Diana Ross, Vin Scully, Newt Minow, Lorne Michaels among others but one honoree had a very extraordinary experience that night who is none other than Ellen DeGeneres. DeGeneres was introduced by both a White House aide and Obama, 55.

"It's useful when you think about this incredible collection of people to realize that this is what makes us the greatest nation on earth", Obama said. Just how important it was not just for the LGBT community, but for all us to see somebody so full of kindness and light.

The Medal of Freedom winners marked the occasion with a star-studded mannequin challenge.

Despite the waterworks, the president gave DeGeneres hugs and reminded us that even in the darkest times, we can all use a little bit of dancing.

Posthumous honors went to Native American advocate Elouise Cobell and Rear Adm. Grace Hopper.

The host of the Ellen show was initially unable to enter the White House after she forget her official ID.