Gymnast Simone Biles and U.S. women's national team star Megan Rapinoe will be presented with the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by Joe Biden in a ceremony next week, the White House announced Friday.
Biles is the most decorated U.S. gymnast in history, winning 32 Olympic and world championship medals. She is also an outspoken advocate on issues that are very personal to her, including athletes' mental health, children in foster care and sexual assault victims.
Rapinoe, a two-time Women's World Cup winner and 2012 Olympic gold medalist, is a prominent advocate for gender pay equality, racial justice and LGBTQIA+ rights.
She was at training camp in Denver when the White House called to inform her of the honor. Rapinoe thought she was getting a prank or robocall when she saw her phone say "White House," U.S. Soccer said in a statement. She showed her phone to a teammate, who encouraged her to answer the call.
Biles and Rapinoe are among 17 people who will be honored at the White House ceremony. Also among those receiving the Medal of Freedom will be actor Denzel Washington, former U.S. Senator John McCain (posthumously), former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs (posthumously) and Sandra Lindsay, the New York City nurse who was the first in the United States to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The honorees "have overcome significant obstacles to achieve impressive accomplishments in the arts and sciences, dedicated their lives to advocating for the most vulnerable among us, and acted with bravery to drive change in their communities, and across the world, while blazing trails for generations to come," the White House said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.