Yankees' Mariano Rivera receives Presidential Medal of Freedom from Donald Trump

Mariano Rivera received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Donald Trump. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s been quite a year for retired New York Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in July as the first player to ever be unanimously elected. And on Monday he was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Donald Trump.

The ceremony started with Rivera entering to — what else? — “Enter Sandman” by Metallica, his iconic warm-up song.

Trump spent about 15 minutes going through Rivera’s biography, starting with his birth in Panama. He touched on Rivera’s journey to the majors, the development of Rivera’s famous cutter, several of his career highlights, and his eventual status as the greatest reliever of all-time.

Rivera is the co-chair of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition, and he and Trump have been friends since before Trump became president. Rivera has been criticized for his friendship with Trump — Rivera has co-hosted a fundraiser for Trump with one of Trump’s sons, and has publicly defended Trump on Fox News.

During Rivera’s remarks, he recounted the difficulty he had communicating with his teammates when he first started in professional baseball. He recalled going to bed crying because he couldn’t talk to his teammates due to the language barrier. He asked two of them to teach him, and by the end of the season he was able to talk to everyone. He ended his remarks by saying that he’s “proud to be an American.”

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