Vin Scully & Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Among the Recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Vin Scully and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the press box at Dodger Stadium | Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Dodgers, Facebook

On Nov. 16, President Barack Obama named 21 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. The award is presented to individuals who have made "especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

Four of the recipients have strong connections to Los Angeles: two legendary sports figures, Vin Scully and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; award-winning architect, Frank Gehry; and pioneering comedian Ellen DeGeneres. The full list of honorees, which includes Robert De Niro, Tom Hanks, Michael Jordan and Bruce Springsteen, is available at this press release.

In a statement, President Obama said, "The Presidential Medal of Freedom is not just our nation's highest civilian honor - it's a tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change this country for the better. From scientists, philanthropists, and public servants to activists, athletes, and artists, these 21 individuals have helped push America forward, inspiring millions of people around the world along the way."

The awards will be presented at the White House on Tuesday, Nov. 22 and will be streamed live at beginning at 2:55 p.m. EST.

Read on for locations across Los Angeles where you can celebrate the extraordinary lives and legacies of four great Angelenos.

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Photo courtesy of Vin Scully, Facebook


Widely considered to be the greatest baseball announcer of all time, Vin Scully was the voice of the Dodgers for 67 seasons, starting in Brooklyn in 1950 and ending in 2016 - the longest tenure of any broadcaster with a single team in professional sports history. For generations of baseball fans, Scully's signature introduction ("It's time for Dodger baseball!"), dulcet tones and lyrical style was "the soundtrack to summer."

Scully's long list of accolades includes induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988, a Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award for sportscasting and induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1995. In April 2016, Elysian Park Avenue, the street that leads into the stadium from Sunset Boulevard to Dodger Stadium Way, was renamed Vin Scully Avenue.

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Dodger Stadium | Photo courtesy of southerncal88, Flickr

Dodger Stadium is the home field of the Los Angeles Dodgers and one of the true cathedrals of Major League Baseball. Since opening its gates in 1962, the storied ballpark has hosted eight World Series and the Dodgers have won four World Championships.

Scully called some of the greatest moments in Dodger Stadium history, including Kirk Gibson's legendary home run in the 1988 World Series, Sandy Koufax's perfect game in 1965, and Clayton Kershaw's no-hitter in 2014.

Fans can take the Dodger Stadium Tour and experience the ballpark from an entirely new perspective. This behind-the-scenes tour lets fans visit restricted and non-public areas at Dodger Stadium, including the Vin Scully Press Box, which was dedicated to the Hall of Fame broadcaster in April 2001.

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Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum peristyle | Photo courtesy of L.A. Coliseum

During the Dodgers' first four seasons in L.A., the team's home field was at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Fans would bring transistor radios to the games to hear Scully call the game - the practice continued even after the team moved to Dodger Stadium. According to Sports Illustrated, broadcast engineers had to compensate for the sound of Scully's play-by-play echoing through the stands at Dodgers home games. 

Following its opening in June 1923, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum has become one of the world’s greatest sports venues, home to world-class athletes and legendary games. The Coliseum has also hosted numerous historic figures and countless concerts and special events. It is the only facility in the world to host two Olympiads, two Super Bowls, one World Series, a Papal Mass and visits by three U.S. Presidents: John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

Located at the historic Coliseum Peristyle, the plaques of the Memorial Court of Honor commemorate outstanding persons or events (athletic or otherwise) that have made an impact on the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Scully was honored with a plaque in 2008.

In 2015, the Coliseum began hosting public tours for the first time. The Self-Guided Tour is available 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday. The docent-led Guided Tour includes the Olympic Arches, Peristyle, and Court of Honor, as well as access to off-limits areas such as the USC Recruit Lounge, Coliseum Boardroom, Press Box, Home and Visitor Locker Rooms, and the Player's Tunnel. All destinations on the docent-led tour are subject to availability. Guided Tours are offered at 10:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. Wednesday–Saturday and last about 90 minutes.

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and President Barack Obama | Photo courtesy of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Facebook

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the National Basketball Association’s all-time leading scorer and a six-time NBA champion. During his 20-year career, Abdul-Jabbar was a six-time NBA Most Valuable Player and a 19-time NBA All-Star. Abdul-Jabbar was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995 and named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996. Abdul-Jabbar has also been an actor, coach and bestselling author. The White House press release notes, "In addition to his legendary basketball career, Abdul-Jabbar has been an outspoken advocate for social justice."

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Bronze statue of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at STAPLES Center | Instagram by @mikey__avila

In November 2012, Abdul-Jabbar was honored with a statue at Chick Hearn Court in front of STAPLES Center. Standing nearly 16 feet tall, the 1,500 lb. bronze statue of the Hall of Fame center, who is depicted shooting his signature skyhook, was created by renowned sculptors/artists Julie Rotblatt Amrany and Omri Amrany.

Located at L.A. LIVE in Downtown L.A., STAPLES Center opened in October 1999 with a concert by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band. STAPLES Center is the home of the NBA’s Lakers and Clippers, the NHL’s Kings and the WNBA’s Sparks. Over the years, STAPLES Center has been the site of Lakers and Sparks championships, the Kings Stanley Cups, and thousands of memorable concerts and special events.

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Photo courtesy of The Forum

Propelled by Abdul-Jabbar's scoring and Magic Johnson's deft passing, the Lakers of the "Showtime" era won five NBA championships in the 1980s. Their home court was The Forum in Inglewood, regarded for many years as one of L.A.'s greatest sports and events venues - home of the Lakers, the Great Gretzky, the "Miracle on Manchester" and countless music concerts. In January 2014, The Forum celebrated its grand reopening with a six-night stand by the Eagles. Since then the renovated venue has continued to book a wide range of top music acts and special events.

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Photo courtesy of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Facebook

Abdul-Jabbar - then known as Lew Alcindor - attended college at UCLA, where he led the Bruins to three consecutive NCAA championships in 1967-69. His coach, John Wooden and fellow Bruin, Jackie Robinson are also Medal of Freedom recipients (in 2003 and 1984, respectively).

Located on the UCLA campus in Westwood, Pauley Pavilion is one of the meccas of college basketball. Under Wooden, the UCLA men’s basketball team won 10 national championships in 12 years, including seven in a row from 1967 to 1973. After a year-long, multi-million dollar renovation, Pauley Pavilion reopened in November 2012 with a game that featured the Bruins against Indiana State University, where Wooden coached for two years before making history at UCLA. It was a fitting tribute for the “Wizard of Westwood.”


Named "the most important architect of our age" by Vanity Fair, Frank Gehry has helped define contemporary architecture with world-famous buildings like Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown L.A., the Dancing House in Prague, and the Guggenheim Museum building in Bilbao, Spain. A graduate of the USC School of Architecture, Gehry has won numerous awards and honors, including the Pritzker Architecture Prize, along with the Medal of Freedom.

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Walt Disney Concert Hall | Photo courtesy of Candice Montgomery, Flickr

Walt Disney Concert Hall opened its doors to the public on Oct. 22, 2003. Located on Grand Avenue in Downtown LA, the concert hall seats more than 2,200 people and is home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Designed by Gehry, with acoustics by Yasuhisa Toyota, Walt Disney Concert Hall has received worldwide critical acclaim and praise from concertgoers for its stunning architecture and extraordinary sound.

Visitors can explore Walt Disney Concert Hall on a self-guided audio tour or a guided tour. The audio tour takes visitors through the concert hall’s history, from conception to completion. Narrated by actor John Lithgow, the audio tour includes insights from Gehry and other key contributors. Docents take visitors on guided tours through much of the interior space and throughout the gardens while presenting highlights of the spectacular building.

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Google's L.A. headquarters since 2011, the Binoculars Building by Frank Gehry | Photo courtesy of wallyg, Flickr

Other key L.A. works by Gehry include the Air and Space Gallery at California Science Center (closed); Loyola Law School in Downtown L.A.; the Binoculars Building (Chiat/Day), Norton House and Spiller House in Venice; the Gehry Residence in Santa Monica; and the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro.

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Photo courtesy of Ellen DeGeneres, Facebook


Ellen DeGeneres has hosted her Emmy Award-winning daytime talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show (aka ellen) since its debut in September 2003. She is also the show's creator and executive producer.

DeGeneres starred in two TV sitcoms, Ellen from 1994 to 1998, and The Ellen Show (2001-02). In 1997, DeGeneres came out as a lesbian during an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Shortly afterward, DeGeneres made TV history when her character, Ellen Morgan, also came out. The White House said, "In her work and in her life, she has been a passionate advocate for equality and fairness."

The Ellen DeGeneres Show tapes at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank. To celebrate the 2,000th show, Studio 1 was renamed The Ellen Stage in November 2015. When Ellen welcomed President Obama to her show in February 2016, DeGeneres praised him for “what you’ve done for the gay community.” The president in turn credited DeGeneres for changing hearts and minds: "I don't think anybody has been more influential than you on that," bringing the comedian to tears.

For movie and TV fans, few L.A. attractions can compare to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood, which offers an immersive, behind the scenes look into Hollywood at work. Guests experience a fascinating two-hour tour that travels through famous backlot streets, soundstages, sets and craft shops.

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Ellen DeGeneres iconic selfie at the 86th Academy Awards | Photo courtesy of @TheEllenShow, Twitter

DeGeneres has hosted the Academy Awards twice, in 2007 and 2014. At the latter ceremony, she posed for a selfie with some of the world's biggest stars and immediately tweeted the photo. The photo is recognized as the most retweeted image in history - 3.3 million times as this post goes live - and was named by TIME as one of the 100 Most Influential Images of All Time.

The Oscars have been presented at the Dolby Theatre since March 2002. Located at Hollywood & Highland, the Dolby is the first permanent venue for the Oscars. The venue presents a wide range of music and entertainment events year round. Visitors can step beyond the red carpet on a guided tour of the Dolby, available 7 days a week from 10:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. Tours depart every half hour and run approximately 30 minutes.

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Visitors adjust the lighting for their photo with Dory at "The Science Behind Pixar." | Photo by Michael Malyszko, courtesy of California Science Center

DeGeneres is the voice of Dory, "a forgetful but unforgettable little fish," in the Academy Award-winning animated film, Finding Nemo (2003). She reprised her role in the blockbuster 2016 sequel, Finding Dory.

Now on view at the California Science Center in Exposition Park, The Science Behind Pixar is a unique, first-time look into the Pixar filmmaking process. The 12,000 square foot interactive exhibition showcases the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts used by the artists and computer scientists who help bring Pixar’s award-winning films to the big screen. More than 40 interactive exhibit elements demonstrate the filmmaking process, giving visitors an unparalleled view of the production pipeline and concepts used at Pixar every day. Fans young and old will love coming face-to-face with re-creations of beloved Pixar characters, including Dory, Buzz Lightyear, Mike and Sulley, Edna Mode and WALL•E.