President Trump awards Medal of Freedom to late SE Texas athlete

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KTRK) -- Babe Zaharias, considered by many to be the greatest female athlete of all-time, is one of three recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Donald Trump.

A representative from the Zaharias Foundation received the award on the late athlete's behalf in a private event Thursday at the White House.

Zaharias was born in Port Arthur in 1911 and was known for her talents in a variety of sports, including golf. She won ten LPGA major championships, two Olympic gold medals, an Olympic silver medal in track and field, and was an All-American basketball player. She also played baseball and was an expert diver, roller-skater and bowler, according to a biography on the foundation's website. She was eventually named the Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th century by ESPN, Sports Illustrated and The Associated Press.

Zaharias was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1953 and became one of the first public figures to openly discuss her illness in an attempt to spread awareness about the disease, the foundation said. She died in 1956 at the age of 44 at John Sealy Hospital in Galveston.

KBMT in Beaumont reports Zaharias Foundation president W.L. Pate had campaigned for nearly two years for Zaharias to be given the award posthumously.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is one of the highest civilian awards in the United States and recognizes people who have made meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace or cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

Golfers Annika Sorenstam and Gary Player were also awarded the honor at Thursday's ceremony.
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