CAMBRIDGE (CBS) — Harvard rolled out the red carpet Saturday night to honor rapper and actor LL Cool J.

The star of CBS’ “NCIS: Los Angeles was named the university’s artist of the year for his pioneering work in rap as well as his efforts to raise literacy rates in low-income neighborhoods.

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The Harvard Foundation presented its most prestigious medal to the two-time Grammy Award at Sanders Theater on the Harvard campus.

Dr. S. Allen Counter, director of the Harvard Foundation, cited LL Cool J’s work though the Jumpstart program, which creates early education programs in low-income neighborhoods with the goal of increasing school readiness and reducing the achievement gap.

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LL Cool J’s charity Jump & Ball, aims to give back to his hometown of Queens by offering a five-week athletic and team-building program dedicated to bringing wholesome fun to young people. He is also a member of the Red Cross Celebrity Cabinet, which raises funds and awareness for initiatives tied to the organization.

Previous Harvard Foundation awards have been presented to distinguished artists including Shakira, Quincy Jones, Queen Latifa, Sharon Stone, Andy Garcia, Will Smith, Matt Damon, Halle Berry, Jackie Chan, Denzel Washington, Salma Hayek, Wycelf Jean, and Herbie Hancock.

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