BOSTON – Celtics legend Bill Russell passed away Sunday at 88, his family announced.
As the NBA’s first black head coach, he won 11 championships and five MVP awards.
“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 those moments unfolded,” his family said on Sunday. “And we hope each of us can find a new way to act or speak up with Bill’s uncompromising, dignified, and always a constructive commitment to principle.”
Russell’s family said the date of Russell’s funeral would reveal soon.
According to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, Russell was “the greatest champion in all team sports.” He often referred to him as “basketball’s Babe Ruth for how he transcended time.”
In 2011, Russell received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“Bill stood for something much bigger than sports: the values of equality, respect, and inclusion that he stamped into the DNA of our league. At the height of his athletic career, Bill advocated vigorously for civil rights and social justice, a legacy he passed down to generations of NBA players who followed in his footsteps. Through the taunts, threats, and unthinkable adversity, Bill rose above it all and remained true to his belief that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity.”
The former Celtics player Paul Pierce expressed, “Today is a sad day for the NBA family.”
Bill Boston, the former NBA player, passed away.