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Pat Summitt Retires: President Obama Among Stars Honoring Legendary Coach

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 13:  Basketball coach Pat Summitt speaks onstage during the 30th Annual Salute To Women In Sports Awards at The Waldorf=Astoria on October 13, 2009 in New York City.  (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for the Women�s Sports Foundation)
Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images
Wes ODonnellFeatured ColumnistApril 19, 2012

It goes without saying that Pat Summitt deserves every bit of recognition she's receiving.

The legendary women's basketball coach at Tennessee is women's college basketball, but her reach stretches far beyond just the women's hardwood.

Summitt is known for more than just her eight national championships. Her legendary stare, her unmatched work ethic and the impact she's made on people's lives are more legendary than her abundant amount of on-court achievements.

It comes as no surprise that stars from all walks of the world have recognized her as she gets set to step down from her post as head coach of the Lady Vols.

Chief among those stars is the commander-in-chief himself (via @wesrucker247):

President Obama has awarded Pat Summitt the Medal of Freedom. Announced moments ago by the White House.

— Wes Rucker (@wesrucker247) April 19, 2012

A Medal of Freedom is the highest award any civilian can receive. Again, it goes without saying that Summitt deserves it.

Peyton Manning, a former Volunteer, also had a few things to say about the legendary coach (via NFL.com):

"Without question, Pat is one of the strongest people I know. It is no surprise that she has not backed down from a challenge.

I have always had a great deal of respect and admiration for Pat, and I am truly honored to call her a friend. I look forward to watching her continue to inspire others in her new role at the University of Tennessee."

Summitt is stepping down from active duty, but will remain as head coach emeritus in an advisory capacity.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers was visibly emotional when discussing Summitt, saying:

"I want to finish with Pat Summitt. Retired. She's a neat lady. I got to know her a little bit. And I just think it's really sad, in a lot of ways. Not basketball, but everything. So, I didn't want to get emotional; I'm an emotional person. And when you see a giant like that leave the game, and leave the game because of health, it's just sad.

But she is responsible for women's basketball. But she's not just a women's basketball coach, she's a great coach. And you know, I'm in this, and the longer I'm in this I just realize how much coaching means to all of us. You think about it today: Pat Summitt is retiring at her age, and Larry Brown is taking a job at his age. And it just tells you how much it's in your blood, how much you love it. And for her not to be able to do it, for me is very sad."

The retiring coach was diagnosed with early-onset dementia-Alzheimer's type a little less than a year ago.

She may no longer be on the sidelines staring down her players, but she's an inspiring figure that will never completely disappear.

Not just to coaches and athletes either, but to people everywhere.

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