Honour for Amaechi
Already recognized with the honor for Order of the British Empire, former Penn State basketball standout John Amaechi ’94 has now been recognized with a tradition that was once used in the Middle Ages and Victorian Era to enable members of a Guild or Livery to carry out their trade or craft within the city’s square mile. Amaechi, earlier this month, was presented with the Freedom of the City of London, an honor that dates back to 1237 and is one of the oldest, surviving traditional ceremonies in the City of London.
The honor was bestowed upon Amaechi, who spent time with three NBA teams, for his work since retiring from the game to foster and promote diversity. The former Penn State center won acclaim eight years ago, when he came out as the first openly gay NBA player. His rather impressive resume also includes a doctorate in psychology, campaigning for human rights and LGBT issues, and working with at-risk youth.
Past recipients of the award include Nelson Mandela, actor Morgan Freeman and BBC journalist Fiona Bruce.
Amaechi, who responded via Facebook, kept the award in perspective:
“The two most famous traditional privileges of being given the Freedom of the City of London are being able to herd my sheep across the bridges of London and that I can be drunk in public and will be escorted home for free by the authorities. I can only see one of those two being handy in the future!
“Nowadays the award is about service to one’s community and joining a network of people who are equally committed to making a better city, better country and a better world. I am honoured and further motivated to do more to fulfil these goals and I hope that the Penn State community, my professors, coaches, teammates, friends, fans and numerous ‘little brothers’ understand the part they’ve played in helping me become a person deemed worthy of recognition.”
B.J. Reyes, associate editor
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