Boston Celtics legend, former basketball player Bill Russell died today (31), in the United States, at the age of 88. The death announcement was posted on the 11-time NBA champion’s profile on social media.
“It is with a very heavy heart that we want to inform all of Bill’s friends, fans and followers,” the statement added. “Bill Russell, the most political winner in American sports history, died peacefully today at age 88, with his wife, Jeaninne, by his side,” he continued.
“Preparations for his memorial will be announced shortly,” the note continued, listing the legend’s career achievements.
Before arriving in the NBA, the former center was a two-time champion in high school and also in the NCAA, the college sports association. In the NBA, Russell defended the colors of Boston Celtics during the 13 seasons he spent in the league.
He led the franchise to 12 finals and won 11 titles, eight of them in a row. The former player was also named 5 times MVP (‘Most Valuable Player’). After retirement, he still became the first black man to command a professional team in US history.
In addition to being the most successful athlete in the league, Bill Russell was a major off-court activist for decades. He even boycotted a match in 1961 to protest “discrimination tolerated too long”. In 2010, the historic number 6 of the Celtics received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his performance.
The NBA, through its commissioner Adam Silver, paid tribute to the former center. “Bill Russell was the greatest champion of all team sports,” the statement began.
“He represented something much bigger than sports: the values of equality, respect and inclusion that he imprinted in our league’s DNA,” the commissioner said in a statement. Silver closes by stating that Bill’s influence on the NBA “will be felt forever”.