Simone Biles Set To Become Youngest Athlete To Receive Presidential Medal Of Freedom Honor

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Simone Biles will receive the Medal of Freedom honor from President Joe Biden, along with 17 other recipients next week. In a statement released Friday, the White House said the Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor, “presented to individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavors.”

Biles, the most decorated U.S. gymnast in history, also advocates for issues such as athletes’ mental health, children in foster care and sexual assault victims, the White House said. The 25-year-old Olympian will become the youngest athlete to receive the honor, USA Today reports.

As Blavity previously reported, Biles pulled out of the team competition during the 2021 Tokyo Olympics to take care of her mental health. While some people criticized her decision, other mental health advocates praised the gymnast.

“The way that they attacked Simone Biles, I was ashamed of our country because, first of all, most of the people that complained were sitting on their fat asses on the couch. You’ll never do a cartwheel and you have the nerve to talk about someone and tell them that they let the country down? We have to start taking accountability that they are not actually superheroes. They do make it look like they’re superheroes, but they are humans,” comedian Leslie Jones told The New York Times.

Biles and U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe will become the fifth and sixth female athletes to be honored with the award, according to CNN.

Other honorees for this year’s award include legendary actor Denzel Washington and former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, as well as Sandra Lindsay, a New York critical care nurse and the first American to receive a COVID-19 vaccine outside of clinical trials. Former U.S. Sen. John McCain and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs will be honored posthumously.

Biden will honor the recipients Thursday at the White House.