NBA legend Bill Russell – one of the most successful players in basketball history – has died at the age of 88 with his wife Jeannine at his side
NBA legend Bill Russell, 11-time NBA champion, has died at the age of 88.
His family said he “died peacefully at the age of 88 with his wife Jeannine by his side”.
They said in a statement on Sunday: “It is with a heavy heart that we want to share this with all of Bill’s friends, fans and followers:
“Bill Russell, the most prolific winner in American sports history, passed away peacefully today at the age of 88, with his wife Jeannine at his side. Arrangements for his memorial service will be announced shortly.
‘Bill’s two state championships in high school heralded the unparalleled streak of pure teamwork to come: two-time NCAA champion; captain of a gold medal-winning US Olympic team; 11-time NBA champion; and topped two NBA championships as the first black head coach of a North American professional sports team.
“Along the way, Bill has received a number of individual awards that are unparalleled as they have not been mentioned by him. In 2009, the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player award was renamed the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award, after the two-time Hall of Famer.
NBA legend Bill Russell has died at the age of 88
“But for all that winning, Bill’s understanding of the fight has brightened his life.
“From boycotting a 1961 exhibition game to exposing discrimination that had been tolerated for too long, to running the first integrated basketball camp in Mississippi after the combustible assassination of Medgar Evers, to decades of activism finally recognized by his receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010 , Bill proclaimed injustice with an unforgiving frankness he intended to upset the status quo, and with a powerful example that, though it was 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. You may experience one or two of the golden moments he gave us, or remember his signature laugh as he happily explained the true story behind those moments.
“And we hope that with Bill’s uncompromising, dignified and always constructive commitment to principle, each of us can find a new way to act or speak out. That would be a final and lasting win for our beloved #6.”
In addition to his civil rights work, he is considered one of the biggest winners in US sports history and the greatest defensive player in NBA history.
While playing for Boston, he experienced significant racism and eventually decided to retire his jersey in a private ceremony rather than share the moment with fans.