Chicago heroes honored with Presidential Medal of Freedom

WASHINGTON (WLS) -- U.S. President Barack Obama honored some of Chicago's heroes with the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Tuesday.

Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan and FCC Chairman Newton Minow were two of the 21 recipients of the country's highest civilian honor.

"There is a reason why you call people the Michael Jordan of," said Obama. "Because Michael Jordan is the Michael Jordan of greatness."

Newton Minow was counsel to the governor of Illinois and appointed by President Kennedy to chair the FCC, known for challenging the media to better serve their viewers, he was one of the driving forces behind presidential debates.

"Newt helped launch the first communication satellites, making nationwide broadcasts possible, and eventually GPS possible and cell phones possible," said Obama. "He predicted it would be more important than the moon landing, 'this will launch ideas into space,' he said, and ideas last longer than people."

Another iconic sports figure, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, was honored by the president.

"The NCAA bans the dunk, didn't say it was about Kareem but, it was about Kareem, when sports change rules because of you, you are really good," said Obama.

Ellen DeGeneres was also an honoree at the ceremony, but she almost didn't make it into the White House.

"They haven't let me into the White House yet because I forgot my ID," the comedian tweeted. "Not joking."

She finally got in and managed to pull off an impressive mannequin challenge with some of the other attendees.

Other recipients included Bill and Melinda Gates, Tom Hanks, Robert Redford, Robert De Niro, Bruce Springsteen, and Diana Ross.

CNNWire contributed to this report.
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