The Metropolitan Water Reclamation Board honored the quick thinking and bravery of Emanuel Gonzalez.
The rescue was caught on camera near the Clark Street Bridge.
Andrew Pitts rolled off the Riverwalk into the water and fell unconscious.
Gonzalez was kayaking nearby.
He held Pitts above water until the police marine unit arrived.
On Thursday, Pitts thanked Gonzalez.
"I am extremely grateful to him. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for him," said Pitts.
Gonzalez recently graduated from Kennedy High School.
He plans to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign this fall.