06/01/2012 12:07 pm ET Updated Aug 01, 2012

Presidential Medal of Freedom Honoree Pat Summitt

13 Medals of Freedom were issued this week by President Obama. Honorees included the likes of my generation's poet-without-rival Bob Dylan.

Also given the medal that signifies "incredible impact over a lifetime" is legendary U of Tennessee basketball coach Pat Summitt. In the male-dominated, male-assciated world of college hoops, Coach Summitt has commanded respect from the elite men of her sport... and, in fact, reigns among them as the leader in wins among ALL NCAA basketball coaches.

Coach Summitt has also courageously admitted to her early (age 59) Alzheimer's diagnosis and has stepped down from her illustrious career as the disease has begun its course.

I have known Coach Summitt over these many years. With millions of admirers of her strength and spirit, I stand in awe of what she has accomplished on the hard courts, and now equally in awe of how she plans to manage her disease -- and manage it in public, with the hopes of showing all of us who know Alzheimer's that there can be grace and maybe even victory once the diagnosis has been issued.

Congratulations, Coach, on all you have done, on all you are.