De Blasio presented Lee with the Key to the City Tuesday.
De Blasio said Lee "epitomizes the resiliency of New York City, the strength of New York City, the spirit of New York City."
"He's someone who has shown incredible loyalty to this city and love for this city," de Blasio said. "So much so that regardless of what's happening, he remains a Knicks fan, through thick and thin. That's persistence, let me tell you."
Watch: Spike Lee Given Key To The City
"It's very rare an artist comes around who can shake an entire system to its core. An artist with a conscience, who interprets our world and reflects it back to us. An artist who just doesn't open the door but kicks it down, making a path for others," said first lady Chirlane McCray.
"No one has portrayed our city more truly, more from the heart, in a way that both demands better of us and tells us how good we are in our souls, no one has done it better than Spike Lee," de Blasio added.
"It's very simple. I love New York City," Lee said. "I'm a product of New York City public education, and it shaped me. I live and die New York City, the greatest city in the world."
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