Bill Russell, an NBA legend who led the Boston Celtics to 11 titles in 13 seasons, including the last two while serving as the first Black head coach of a major American sport, and who marched alongside Martin Luther King Jr. for civil rights, passed away on Sunday. He was 88.
According to a social media message from his family, Russell passed away with his wife, Jeannine, by his side. The reason for the death was not disclosed in the announcement.
“Bill’s wife Jeannine and his large network of friends and family are grateful that you have kept him in your prayers. Maybe you’ll remember one or two of the memorable occasions he shared with us, or you’ll remember his characteristic chuckle as he delighted in sharing the true tale of how those times played out “According to the family statement.
And with Bill’s unwavering, honorable, and consistently positive devotion to principle, we sincerely hope that every one of us can discover a new way to act or speak up. That would be our beloved #6’s final and final victory.
Russell is “the greatest champion in all of team sports,” according to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.”
“Bill stood for ideals of equality, respect, and inclusiveness that he infused into the very fabric of our league—values that were much more important than athletics. Bill passionately promoted social justice and civil rights throughout the height of his athletic career, a legacy he left to subsequent generations of NBA players “added Mr. Silver. “Bill persevered in his conviction that everyone ought to be treated with dignity despite the insults, threats, and unfathomable difficulty.
Obama remarked during the ceremony that “Bill Russell, the man, is someone who stood up for the rights and dignity of all men.” He walked with King and stood by Ali. He declined to participate in the scheduled game after a restaurant refused to serve the Black Celtics. Despite taunts and vandalism, he persisted in his goal of improving his beloved teammates so that so many others could succeed in the future.
Mr. Silver continued, “Bill was the consummate winner and teammate, and his influence on the NBA will be felt forever. Our sincere condolences go out to his wife Jeannine, his family, and all of his friends.
The plans for Russell’s memorial ceremony will be revealed in the upcoming days, according to his family.