Most valuable player of the US professional league NBA, athlete of the year and silver bay leaf: Dirk Nowitzki received in his long career as a basketball player numerous honors. Now the 41-year-old has been awarded again - this time, it was not about his sporting achievements. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier handed over the Cross of Merit to the former professional athlete.
Steinmeier especially appreciated Nowitzki's social commitment with the Order of Merit. As a Unicef ambassador and in his two foundations, the native of Würzburg has been supporting children for many years. "Early on in his professional career, Dirk Nowitzki was aware of his privileged situation," states the statement.
"My foundation should help children and young people discover what they are made of and learn to make the most of their opportunities, in sports and in life", Dirk Nowitzki formulated the goals of his foundation.
(Read an interview with Dirk Nowitzki here)
On the day of volunteering, a total of 13 women and 11 men from all federal states were honored for their commitment to education. "Every one of you is doing something for cohesion in our country," said Federal President Steinmeier. He demanded more commitment from politics to create educational justice in Germany.
The Federal Cross of Merit have received some prominent athletes so far, such as Max Schmeling, Uwe Seeler and except for Erich Ribbeck all national coach of the German national football team. For outstanding sporting achievements, people in Germany receive the Silver Laurel Leaf as the highest award.
Nowitzki played for 21 years for the Dallas Mavericks. In 2011, the team won the championship in the NBA. In April he ended his career.