NBA legend Bill Russell has passed away at 88 years old, according to a statement posted to social media.
The statement said that Russell died peacefully with his wife by his side and that funeral arrangement would be announced soon.
The statement noted that Russell was the most prolific winner in American sports history, including two high school basketball championships, two NCAA championships, a gold medal in the Olympics, 11 NBA championships, and winning two NBA championships as the first black head coach of any major U.S. professional sports team.
“But for all the winning, Bill’s understanding of the struggle is what illuminated his life,” the statement said. “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.”
“Bill’s wife, Jeannine, and his many friends and family thank you for keeping Bill in your prayers,” the statement continued. “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.”
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