State governor John Kasich called the story of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight one of hurt beyond imagination, but one that did not end there.
Speaking at his annual State of the State speech, he said: "It is also a story of three women who found an inner strength and a courage that brought them through and sustained them.
"No-one rescued them, they rescued themselves, by staying strong and sticking together, and then by literally breaking out into freedom."
The three, who were household names in Cleveland for years as missing persons, were freed when one of them managed to push her way through a door.
They were rescued last May after being kidnapped by Ariel Castro from the streets of the city between 2002 and 2004, when they were aged 14, 16 and 20.
Castro, who pleaded guilty last August to hundreds of charges, hanged himself in prison a month later.