Bill Russell: NBA legend and civil rights activist Bill Russell dies at 88

“It is with a very heavy heart we would like to pass along to all of Bill’s friends, fans, & followers,” the assertion reads.

“Bill Russell, the most prolific winner in American sports history, passed away peacefully today at age 88, with his wife, Jeannine, by his side. Arrangements for his memorial service will be announced soon.”

Along with his sporting achievements, Russell was considered one of sport’s main civil rights activists and marched alongside Martin Luther King Jr. when he gave his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. He additionally supported iconic boxer Muhammad Ali in his opposition to being drafted into navy service.
Former US President Barack Obama took to social media to reward Russell’s contribution to each basketball and society.

“Today, we lost a giant. As tall as Bill Russell stood, his legacy rises far higher — both as a player and as a person,” he mentioned.

“Perhaps more than anyone else, Bill knew what it took to win and what it took to lead. On the court, he was the greatest champion in basketball history. Off of it, he was a civil rights trailblazer — marching with Dr. King and standing with Muhammad Ali.

“For many years, Bill endured insults and vandalism, however by no means let it cease him from talking up for what’s proper. I discovered a lot from the way in which he performed, the way in which he coached, and the way in which he lived his life. Michelle and I ship our like to Bill’s household, and everybody who admired him.”

Russell won 11 championships with the Celtics, including eight straight from 1959 to 1966. He was a five-time NBA MVP and a 12-time All-Star.

As a coach for the Celtics, he led Boston to two titles, becoming the first Black head coach to win an NBA championship.

“Bill’s two state championships in highschool provided a glimmer of the incomparable run of pure crew accomplishment to come back: twice an NCAA champion; captain of a gold-medal-winning US Olympic crew; 11 instances an NBA champion; and on the helm for 2 NBA championships as the primary black head coach of any North American skilled sports activities crew,” the family statement continued.

“Alongside the way in which, Bill earned a string of particular person awards that stands unprecedented because it went unmentioned by him. In 2009, the award for the NBA Finals most useful participant was renamed after two- time Corridor of Famer because the ‘Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Helpful Participant Award.’

“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.”

The Celtics issued a press release lauding Russell and his contribution to each the crew and the game as an entire.

“To be the greatest champion in your sport, to revolutionize the way the game is played, and to be a societal leader all at once seems unthinkable, but that is who Bill Russell was,” the assertion learn.

“Bill Russell’s DNA is woven through every element of the Celtics organization, from the relentless pursuit of excellence, to the celebration of team rewards over individual glory, to a commitment to social justice and civil rights off the court. Our thoughts are with his family as we mourn his passing and celebrate his enormous legacy in basketball, Boston, and beyond.”

Fellow NBA legend Michael Jordan — broadly thought of to be the best basketball participant of all time — mentioned, “Bill Russell was a pioneer — as a player, as a champion, as the NBA’s first Black head coach and as an activist. He paved the way and set an example for every Black player who came into the league after him, including me. The world has lost a legend. My condolences to his family and may he rest in peace.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver additionally shared his condolences.

“Bill Russell was the greatest champion in all of team sports,” Silver mentioned in a press release. “The countless accolades that he earned for his storied career with the Boston Celtics — including a record 11 championships and five MVP awards — only begin to tell the story of Bill’s immense impact on our league and broader society.

“Bill stood for one thing a lot greater than sports activities: the values of equality, respect and inclusion that he stamped into the DNA of our league. On the top of his athletic profession, Bill advocated vigorously for civil rights and social justice, a legacy he handed all the way down to generations of NBA gamers who adopted in his footsteps. By means of the taunts, threats and unthinkable adversity, Bill rose above all of it and remained true to his perception that everybody deserves to be handled with dignity.”

CNN’s Homero de la Fuente contributed to this report.