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Huge names dominate Obama's last group of Medal of Freedom recipients

Josh Earnest calls Scully

WASHINGTON -- President Obama is honoring actors Robert DeNiro, Cicely Tyson, Tom Hanks and Robert Redford with the nation’s highest civilian honor.

They’re among 21 people Mr. Obama plans to recognize with the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House Tuesday.

The award is given to individuals who have made meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the U.S., to world peace or to cultural or other major public or private endeavors.

Others from the entertainment field include Ellen DeGeneres, Diana Ross, Bruce Springsteen and “Saturday Night Live” producer Lorne Michaels.

Honorees from the sports world include basketball players Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan, along with veteran sports broadcaster Vin Scully. The Hall of Famer retired last month after spending his entire 67-year career in the booth for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He turns 89 on Nov. 27.

Other honorees are philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates, polymath physicist Richard Garwin, architect Frank Gehry, designer Maya Lin, attorney Newt Minow, mathematician and computer scientist Margaret H. Hamilton, and Eduardo Padrón, president of Miami Dade College in Florida.

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

Cobell was a Blackfeet woman who led a 15-year legal fight against the federal government over mismanagement of Indian trust funds. In addition to a lawsuit that ended with a $3.4 billion settlement, Cobell was a rancher who helped found Native American Bank. She died in October 2011 due to complications from cancer. She was 65.

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