Jack87 news today, Beloved NBA legend Bill Russell has died at the age of 88, his family announced in a statement Sunday. Russell, the civil rights activist who went from championship player to the first black coach of a professional sports team, died at home accompanied by his wife.
Russell’s accomplishments on the court are unrivaled: He’s the most prolific winner in professional basketball history — 11 championships as a player and player-coach.
But his family made it clear in the statement that his influence off the court is his true legacy.
“Despite all the victories, Bill’s understanding of the struggle has illuminated his life,” his family wrote. “From boycotting an exhibition game in 1961 to exposing long-tolerated discrimination, to leading Mississippi’s first comprehensive basketball camp after Medgar Evers was assassinated, asianbookie to his 2010 presidential honor Decades of activism finally recognized by the Medal, Bill’s call for injustice with ruthless candor, his intent to disrupt the status quo, and a powerful example that, though he never had humble intentions, will always inspire teamwork, selflessness and Hopeful change.”
(In 2011, President Barack Obama presented Bill Russell with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.)
They called on his fans to follow his example.
“Maybe you’ll relive a golden moment or two he gave us, or recall his signature laugh, as he was so happy to explain the real stories behind those moments. We hope each of us finds a new way to act or express Bill’s uncompromising, solemn and always constructive commitment to principles,” it wrote.
“This will be the last and lasting victory for our beloved #6.”
That sentiment was echoed by Michael Jordan, who is often cited as Russell’s spiritual successor in the game.
“Bill Russell was a pioneer — as bk8 player, as a champion, as the NBA’s first black head coach and as an activist,” Jordan said in a statement. “He paved the way and set an example for every black player who came into the league after him, including me. The world has lost a legend.”
Russell was born in Monroe, Louisiana, in 1934, during the height of segregation in America. As the family sought better job opportunities, Russell’s family moved to California, where he landed at a high school in Oakland. He was 6-foot-10, according to his NBA resume, but started out as an “awkward, unremarkable” center on the school’s basketball team. This quickly became an all-star when he was awarded a scholarship at the University of San Francisco.
After winning gold at the Olympics and joining the Boston Celtics in 1956, Russell became an unrivaled figure in the sport, spending his entire career in Boston. He helped lead the Celtics to 11 championships in the 1950s and 1960s. In 2009, the NBA named the Finals MVP trophy in his honor, making his name synonymous with victory.
“Bill Russell is the greatest champion in all of team bk8 sports,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement Sunday.
From marching with Martin Luther King Jr. to supporting Muhammad Ali, Russell fearlessly fought for civil rights and racial justice.
It’s not without counterattacks. His daughter, Karen Russell, wrote in a 1987 New York Times column that Russell faced repeated racist threats while playing, often returning to houses that had been vandalized or looted. Eventually, Russell wrote a column for the Saturday Evening Post denouncing racist attacks, which in turn led him to report more threatening letters to the FBI.
But when Russell applied for his FBI file years later, he found that the agency he sought help repeatedly called him “an arrogant black man who wouldn’t sign for a white kid,” his daughter recalled.
Time is in Russell’s favor. In 2011, President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of his commitment to building a better world despite his and his family’s suffering.
“Bill Russell was a man who stood up for the rights and dignity of all people,” Obama said at the time. “He endured insults and destruction, but he’s been focused on making the teammates he loves better players. , and made possible the success of many followers.”