A Look at the Life and Career of Bill Russell

Celtics

The 11-time champion has a career spanning more than 60 years.

Celtics player-coach Bill Russell in 1968. In the background, from right to left, Tom “Sachs” Sanders, Jon Havlisek, Don Nelson.

Basketball legend Bill Russell, who made history with the Boston Celtics, has died, his family announced Sunday. He was 88 years old.

Russell’s career spans over 60 years, from college basketball to the Celtics leading 11 championships, to becoming the first black head coach for a North American professional sports team, to his social justice initiatives.

Here’s a look at Russell’s illustrious career in pictures.

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February 23, 1956 – Bill Russell, a member of the University of San Francisco basketball team, draws a basket. One of the best centres, he helped his team win 20 straight games during the 1956 season. (AP photo/file)
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December 19, 1956 – Bill Russell signs his contract with the NBA’s Boston Celtics at the Boston Garden, along with Celtics owners Walter Brown (left) and Lou Peary (right). (AP photo/file)
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April 24, 1963 – Bill Russell hoists teammate Bob Cousy in the throes of victory after the Celtics beat the Lakers 112-109 in Los Angeles to win a fifth consecutive NBA championship. (AP photo/Ed Vidis, file)
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December 12, 1964 , Bill Russell is greeted by coach Arnold “Red” Orbach after scoring his 10,000th point in an NBA game against the Baltimore Bullets at the Boston Garden. (AP photo/file)
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May 6, 1969 – Bill Russell and his wife, Rose, are welcomed at Logan Airport by Governor Francis Sargent as they return home after the Boston Celtics win their 11th World Championship title against the Los Angeles Lakers. Total playoff earnings for the team was $93,000. Asked what he would do with the cash, Russell replied, “Money? I’m going to spend it. I still can’t figure out where I can ship it or take it with me, so I’m going to spend it.” (Bill Brett/Globe Staff)
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March 12, 1972 – In a ceremony held at the Boston Garden, the Boston Celtics retire the number Bill Russell (second from left) following his retirement. Participating in the ceremony were, from left, Celtics player Jon Havlisek, general manager Mann Rad Auerbach, coach Tom Heinsohn and players Don Chaney and Tom Sanders. (File/Boston Globe)
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November 14, 1973 – Seattle SuperSonics coach Bill Russell and Boston Celtics coach Tom Heinsohn, former Celtics teammates, hug before facing their teams at the Boston Garden. (Associated Press/Wire Photo)
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January 15, 1988 – Bill Russell, former Boston Celtics teammate, coach of the Sacramento Kings, and Casey Jones, coach of the Boston Celtics, meet in the Boston Garden before the start of the Kings-Celtics NBA basketball game. (AP Photo/Mike Cullen, FILE)
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May 25, 1999 – Bill Russell and Larry Bird share a laugh during the Night of Legends, celebrating the closing of Boston Garden. (Lane Turner/Globe Staff)
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February 14, 2009 – Bill Russell learns that the NBA Basketball Championship Most Valuable Player award has been renamed the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award. (AP Photo/Matt York, FILE)
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February 25, 2011 – Bill Russell is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington, D.C. Obama said that 14 recipients were awarded the 2011 Presidential Medal of Freedom “and who we are” , reveal the best of it. Aspire to be.” (Bloomberg Photo / Andrew Harrer)
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9 April 2014 , Bill Russell and Jim Brown take questions from Dr. Harry Edwards at the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas. The summit marked the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act legislation. (Ricardo B. Brazil-Pool/Getty Images)
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December 18, 2017 , Bill Russell joined hands with Kobe Bryant at halftime, when Bryant’s #8 and #24 Lakers jerseys were retired at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. (Kevork Jansezian/Getty Images)
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July 31, 2022 – Max Watkins, 7, pays tribute to Celtics legend Bill Russell, who passed away today. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)

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