“Mariano Rivera has made extraordinary contributions to American sports, culture and society," Trump said. "He is the most dominant relief pitcher in the history of baseball. And more than that, he has lived the American dream and shines as an example of American greatness for all to see."
A five-time World Series champion and 13-time All-Star, Rivera holds the Major League Baseball record for saves, with 652, in his 19-season career, all with the New York Yankees. Rivera, who earned the 1999 World Series MVP title, was the first Yankee to save 300 games.
Rivera joined a growing list of professional athletes to be awarded the nation’s highest civilian award by Trump — three within the past month alone.
He is the 12th individual to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom during Trump's presidency. Other recent Trump honorees have included NBA Hall of Famers Jerry West and Bob Cousy and golf great Tiger Woods.
Oluwatomike Adeboyejo reports for NBC News from Washington.