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President Obama is fondly voicing support for his close friend and mentor, Harvard Law School professor Charles Ogletree, who has revealed he has Alzheimer's disease.

Obama has spoken of Ogletree, 63, as a constant source of inspiration to him, particularly during difficult times. In a statement to the Globe, the president said Tuesday that he and his wife, Michelle, are saddened to hear of the diagnosis. Both graduated from Harvard Law School.

"Professor Charles Ogletree has been a dear friend and mentor to Michelle and me since we met him as law students more than two decades ago," Obama said. "But we are just two of the many people he has helped, supported, taught, advised, and encouraged throughout his life.

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"We were saddened to hear of his recent diagnosis, but we were also so inspired by Charles's courageous response," the president continued.

Ogletree, who also is an activist and author, told the Globe on Monday that he feels called to spread awareness about the disease, especially among other people of color, who are disproportionately likely to develop the neurological disorder.

"I want to be a spokesperson," Ogletree said. "I want to tell people don't be afraid of it."

Obama, in his statement, said of Ogletree: "In sharing his story and putting a spotlight on this disease, he is continuing his lifelong efforts to help others. Michelle and I are honored to know Charles, and wish him, Pamela, and their children the very best."


Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com.