Legendary NBA player, 11-time champion Bill Russell dies at 88

FILE - NBA great Bill Russell reacts at a as he learns the most valuable player award for the NBA basketball championships has been renamed the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award during a news conference Feb. 14, 2009 in Phoenix. Basketball fans hoping to buy something from Bill Russells memorabilia collection should expect some big-name competition. Hall of Famers Shaquille ONeal and Charles Barkley say they're interested in bidding on items that Russell a civil rights icon and the most decorated champion in team sports history is selling off. An online auction with 429 lots began last week and will culminate in a live event at the TD Garden on Friday, Dec. 10, 2021 (AP Photo/Matt York, File) (Matt York, AP2009)

Bill Russell, one of the greatest basketball players in the sport’s history, has died at age 88.

Russell, an 11-time NBA champion, died along side his wife and family, “peacefully,” according to a statement posted to his Twitter account on Sunday.

“But for all the winning, Bill’s understanding of the struggle is what illuminated his life. From boycotting a 1961 exhibition game to unmask too-long-tolerated discrimination, to leading Mississippi’s first integrated basketball camp in the combustible wake of Medgar Evans’ assassination, to decades of activism ultimately recognized by his receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010, Bill called out injustice with an unforgiving candor that he intended would disrupt the status quo, and with a powerful example that, though never his humble intention, will forever inspire teamwork, selflessness and thoughtful change,” the statement read.

“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.”

In 13 years, Russell led the Celtics to 12 NBA Finals, winning 11 of them. He widely considered to be one of the greatest players in NBA history.

Russell was awarded the Medal of Freedom by former President Barack Obama in 2011.


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Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.