NBA Legend Bill Russell Dies Aged 88

Bill Russell, who played for the Boston Celtics and won 11 NBA titles during his Hall of Fame career, passed away on Sunday at the age of 88.

The 12-time NBA All-Star died away with his wife by his side, according to a statement Russell issued on his Twitter account.

The statement read:

“It is with a heavy heart we would like to pass along to all of Bill’s friends, fans and followers:

“Bill Russell, the most prolific winner in American sports history, passed away peacefully today aged 88, with his wife, Jeannine, by his side.

“Arrangements for his memorial will be announced soon.

“Bill’s two state championships in high school offered a glimmer of the incomparable run of pure team accomplishment to come: twice an NCAA champion; captain of a gold-meal-winning US Olympic team; 11 times an NBA champion; and at the helm for two NBA championships as the first black head coach of any North American professional sports team.

“Along the way, Bill earned a string of individual awards that stands unprecedented as it went unmentioned by him.

“In 2009, the award for the NBA Finals most valuable player was renamed after two-time Hall of Famer as the ‘Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award.

“But for all the winning, Bill’s understanding of the struggle is what illuminated his life.

“From boycotting a 1961 exhibition game to unmask too-long-tolerates discrimination, to leading Mississippi’s first integrated basketball camp in the combustible wake of Medgar Evans’ assassination, to decades of activism ultimately recognised by his receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010, Bill called out injustice with an unforgiving candor that he intended would disrupt the status quo, and with a powerful example that, though never his humble intention, will forever inspire teamwork selflessness and thoughtful change.

“Bill’s wife, Jeannine, and his many friends and family thank you for keeping Bill in your prayers. Perhaps you’ll relive one or two of the golden moments he gave us, or recall his trademark laugh as he delighted in explaining the real story behind how those moments unfolded.

“And we hope each of us can find a new way to act or speak up with Bill’s uncompromising, dignified and always constructive commitment to principle.

“That would be one last, and lasting, win for our beloved #6.”

Russell, widely regarded as the best defensive center in basketball history, transformed the Celtics into a force that won eight straight championships from 1959 through 1966.

Russell served as the cornerstone of a Boston Celtics dynasty that amassed 11 championships in 13 years, two of which he won as the first Black head coach in a major American sport.

He battled Wilt Chamberlain and is a member of the Hall of Fame. He was a five-time MVP and 12-time All-Star. Along with Martin Luther King Jr., Russell participated in civil rights marches and supported boxer Muhammad Ali when he objected to being drafted into the military.