Former New Orleans Saints safety Steve Gleason was honored with a Congressional Gold Medal Wednesday, and the 42-year-old ALS advocate was met with a roaring standing ovation:
Gleason became the first football player to ever receive the honor, per Jeff Duncan of The Athletic, and his medal features him wearing his No. 37 Saints jersey:
Gleason was immortalized in 2012 with a statue in front of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome depicting his legendary blocked punt from the Saints' first game back in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina. However, his lasting legacy has become his courageous activism since he was diagnosed with ALS in 2011.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who was teammates with Gleason for the 2006 season, spoke at Wednesday's ceremony about the day he was told Gleason had ALS:
On Dec. 20, 2018, Gleason released a statement on his nomination for the Congressional Gold Medal:
Gleason joins the likes of Roberto Clemente, Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus as athletes to have received a Congressional Gold Medal (h/t Terri Troncale of the Saints' website).