Bill Russell was a legend of the Boston Celtics dynasty who has won 11 NBA championships in total and eight consecutive championships. Russell had the most amazing career of any player in the annals of team sports, spanning a period of 15 years, beginning with his junior year at the University of San Francisco. We are deeply saddened to report that the NBA Hall of Famer has passed away.
The Boston Celtics legend was 88-years-old. According to a statement posted on social media, Russell passed away “peacefully” with his wife, Jeannine, by his side. The announcement stated that details on his memorial service would shortly be released.
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-tolerated discrimination, to leading Mississippi’s first integrated basketball camp in the combustible wake of Medgar Evans’ assassination, to decades of activism ultimately recognized by his receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom … 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 was a two-time All-American at USF, where he helped the team to 55 straight victories and two consecutive NCAA titles. At the 1956 Olympics, he too took home a gold medal. He led the Celtics to the NBA Finals 12 times during his 13 years in Boston, where they won the title 11 times.
Bill Russell suffered a significant ankle sprain during the series against the St. Louis Hawks in 1958, the lone season the Celtics lost to them. In the decisive Game 6 for the Hawks, he was limited and missed two games. His storied career is full of amazing moments like that.
In a statement released on Sunday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver referred to Russell as “the greatest champion in all of team sports.” Our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones. RIP.