Jim Thorpe's family accepting Presidential Medal of Freedom on his behalf

BRADENTON, Fla. - A legendary athlete will be recognized on a national stage on Friday.

The family of Jim Thorpe will accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom on his behalf.

The award comes more than a century after he set Olympic records. Thorpe’s granddaughter, Lynn Hannon, and her family will accept the award from President Joe Biden.

"Just the thrill of it finally, finally, finally being recognized," Hannon said.

Hannon says the award came as a surprise to their family. They found out the Presidential Medal of Freedom would be awarded to Thorpe last week.

"It’s one of the highest civilian awards, awarded in the United States," she said.

Hannon says Thorpe is the only man to have won both the pentathlon and decathlon. He won gold medals at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm.

Thorpe was also the first Native American to win an Olympic gold medal for the United States. Thorpe was an all-time great on multiple stages.

"He was a natural athlete," Hannon said. "He could bowl, he could play basketball, he could do anything. God gave him a very special, special talent. Not just baseball, or football or track."

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Hannon says her grandfather’s passions weren’t limited to his athletic career.

"During the second World War, he was too old, or they wouldn’t accept him," she said. "He couldn’t enlist. So, he worked with the Merchant Marines on explosives for years. No one knows about that."

She says her grandfather would be extremely proud to receive this prestigious award.

"He was a very shy person, believe it or not," Hannon said. "And he would be honored beyond belief, but he wouldn’t say anything other than thank you."

The medal will be displayed in the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.

The award will join the Jim Thorpe House in Oklahoma and the Jim Thorpe Memorial Foundation in helping keep his memory and legacy alive.

"I’m so glad people still remember him," Hannon said. "I’m so glad when his name is brought up, and they say, ‘Oh, I know about him, I read about him. He was great.’"

The Thorpe family is working to repair the Jim Thorpe House. To find more information about the Jim Thorpe Memorial Foundation, click here.

The ceremony on Friday will be streamed, and to find more information, click here.

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