“It is with a very heavy heart that we would like to pass this on to all of Bill’s friends, fans and followers,” the statement read. “Bill Russell, the most prolific winner in the history of American sports, passed away peacefully today at the age of 88, with his wife, Jeanine, at his side. Arrangements for his memorial service will be announced soon.
“Bill’s two high school state championships provided a glimpse into the unrivaled path of upcoming pure team accomplishments: a two-time NCAA champion; a gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympic team captain; an 11-time NBA champion; and at the helm of two NBA championships as the first black coach of any A professional sports team in North America.
Along the way, Bill earned a string of singles awards he’d never seen before because he didn’t mention them. In 2009, the NBA Finals award was renamed after he was twice named Hall of Famer as the ‘Bill Russell NBA Finals Player of the Year’ award.
“Bill’s wife, Jennine, and many of his friends and family thank you for keeping Bill in your prayers. Perhaps you’ll live once or two of the golden moments he gave us, or remember his special laugh and are delighted to explain the true story behind how those moments unfolded. We hope that all of us can Finding a new way to act or speak with Belle’s relentless, generous and always constructive commitment to principle. It will be the last and lasting win for our beloved #6.”
Russell won 11 championships with the Celtics, including eight in a row from 1959 to 1966, and was the NBA Most Valuable Player five times and 12 all-stars.
As a Celtics coach, he led Boston to two titles, becoming the first black coach to win an NBA championship.
“Being the greatest champion in your sport, revolutionizing the way the game is played, and at the same time being a community leader seems unimaginable, but that’s Bill Russell,” the statement read.
“Bill Russell’s DNA is woven through every element of the Celtics organization, from the relentless pursuit of excellence, to celebrating team rewards for individual glory, to a commitment to social justice and civil rights out of court. Our thoughts are with his family as we mourn his passing and celebrate his immense legacy in Basketball, Boston and beyond.
Fellow NBA legend Michael Jordan – widely considered to be the greatest basketball player of all time – said “Bill Russell was a pioneer – both as a player and as a champion, as the first black coach in the NBA and as an activist. He paved the way and set an example for every black player who came along.” To the league after him including me. The world has lost a legend. My condolences to his family and may God have mercy on him.”
“For decades, Bell has endured insults and vandalism, but that has never stopped him from speaking out what’s right. I’ve learned so much from the way he plays, the way he coaches, and the way he lived his life. Michelle and I sent our love to the Bell family and everyone who admired with it “.
“Bill Russell was the greatest champion in all of team sports,” Silver said in a statement. “The countless accolades he has received for his career with the Boston Celtics – including 11 record titles and five Player of the Year awards – only begin to tell the story of Bale’s tremendous impact on our league and the broader community.
“Bill championed something far greater than sport: the values of equality, respect, and inclusion that he imprinted in the DNA of our league. At the height of his sports career, Bale vigorously advocated for civil rights and social justice, a legacy he passed down through generations of NBA players who walked the field. His footsteps. Through sarcasm, threats, and unimaginable adversity, Bell has risen above all else and has remained true to his belief that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity.”
CNN’s Homero de la Fuente contributed to this report.
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