Celtics, basketball and social justice icon Bill Russell has died

Celtics

The 11-time champion was 88 years old.

Bill Russell passed away peacefully on Sunday. Barry Chin/Globe Staff/File

Bill Russell, who made history with the Boston Celtics who led them to 11 championships, has died, his family announced Sunday. He was 88 years old.

“It is with a very heavy heart that we would like to pass along all of Bill’s friends, fans and followers: Bill Russell, the most prolific champ in American sports history, passed away peacefully with his wife Jeanine at the age of 88 today. . , on his behalf,” the statement, posted on Twitter, read.

Russell won titles all throughout his career, including two high school state championships, two NCAA titles, an Olympic gold medal with the US basketball team, and 11 of his titles with the Celtics.

Russell also made history in 1966 when the Celtics named him their head coach, making him the first black head coach of any North American professional sports team. He won two of his 11 titles as player-coach with the Celtics.

The statement by Russell’s family also focused on Russell’s activism that lasted several decades.

“For all the winners, Bill’s understanding of the struggle brightened his life. From boycotting the 1961 exhibition game to exposing long-tolerated discrimination, Mississippi’s first integrated basketball camp To lead, in the combustible wake of the assassination of Medgar Evans, for decades of activism was eventually recognized by the receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010. The bill called for injustice with an unforgivable candor, which he intended to do. Will disrupt the status quo, and with a powerful example, though never his humble intention, will forever inspire teamwork, selflessness and thoughtful change.”

As Russell’s family thanked those who pray for him and the family, they ask for one thing as people “relive one or two of the golden moments he gave us.”

“We hope that each of us can find a new way to act or speak with Bill’s unshakable, respectful, and always constructive commitment to principle. He wins for one last, and lasting, #6 Will go.”

This story will be updated with more details to come.

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