Bill Russell, the greatest Boston Celtics center of all time who won 11 championships during 13 dominant NBA seasons, died Sunday at the age of 88.
The Hall of Famer passed away peacefully with his wife Jeanine by his side, according to a message on Russell’s official Twitter page.
The 6-foot-10 Russell, a five-time NBA Most Valuable Player, averaged 15.1 points and 22.5 rebounds per game during his career from 1956 to 1969, playing every season for the Celtics during a dynasty that included superstar teammates like Bob Cousy and John Havlicek.
He was a 12-time All-Star, a four-time rebounding champion, and was named to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary and 75th Anniversary NBA All-Time Greatest Players lists.
Russell won his first nine championships with prolific Celtics coach Red Auerbach. Russell then became the first black coach in professional sports in North America in 1966, spending his final three seasons with the Celtics as a player-coach.
He won the last two championships as a player-coach, making Russell the first black coach to win a professional championship in North America.
“But despite all his victories, Bill’s understanding of struggle illuminated his life,” the Sunday announcement said.
“From boycotting an exhibition game in 1961 to expose discrimination that had been endured for too long, to leading Mississippi’s first integrated basketball camp since the assassination of Medgar Evans, to decades of activism, ultimately recognized by his receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010. , Bill called out the injustice with unforgivable sincerity that he believed would disrupt that status quo.”