Willie O'Ree is set to receive one of the United States' highest honors.
On Monday evening, the White House announced that U.S. President Joe Biden has signed the “Willie O’Ree Congressional Gold Medal Act” into law, paving the way for O'Ree to be given the prestigious award for his contributions to equality in sports and the bravery that helped him to become the first black player in NHL history.
“This esteemed honor is befitting of Willie O’Ree, a pioneer whose impact on hockey has been groundbreaking, profound, and enduring," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.
"Since 1998, O’Ree has been an ambassador for positive social change using hockey as a platform to build character, teach life skills, and impart the values of hockey – perseverance, teamwork, and dedication."
Along with making history as the first black player to play in an NHL game back in 1957, O'Ree will now add another trailblazing effort to his incredible list of accomplishments, becoming the first hockey player to ever receive the Congressional Gold Medal in the nearly 250 years that the honor has existed.
As well, this announcement serves as yet another step towards bestowing O'Ree with the accolades he was so long deprived of, a process of rectification that began in 2018 when O'Ree was finally inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Congratulations to one of the bravest and most important players in hockey history.