Today (31), Boston Celtics legend, former basketball player Bill Russell died in the USA at the age of 88. The death announcement was posted on the 11-time NBA champion’s social media profile.
“We regret to inform all of Bill’s friends, fans and followers,” the statement said. “Bill Russell, the most political winner in American sports history, passed away peacefully today at the age of 88, with his wife Jeanine by his side,” he continued.
“Preparations for his memorial will be announced soon,” followed the note, which listed the legend’s career accomplishments.
Before arriving in the NBA, the former center was a two-time champion in high school as well as in the NCAA, the collegiate athletic association. In the NBA, Russell played for Boston Celtics during the 13 seasons spent in the championship.
He led the franchise to 12 Final Four appearances and won 11 titles, including eight in a row. The former player was also named MVP (“Most Valuable Player”) 5 times. After his retirement, he still became the first black man in US history to lead a professional team.
In addition to being the league’s most successful athlete, Bill Russell has been a major activist off the court for decades. He even boycotted the game in 1961, protesting “the discrimination that has been tolerated for too long”. In 2010, the Celtics’ historic No. 6 received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his speech.
The NBA paid tribute to the former center through its commissioner, Adam Silver. “Bill Russell was the greatest champion of all team sports,” the announcement begins.
“He represented something much bigger than sports: the values of equality, respect and inclusion that he stamped into the DNA of our league,” the commissioner said in a statement. Silver closes by stating that Bill’s impact on the NBA “will be felt forever.”