NBA star Bill Russell died on Sunday with his wife by his side. Russell was 88 years old, and a giant in the NBA as a player and the first Black coach in any US major league. He was an 11-time champion and 5-time MVP during his storied career, and was a valued basketball icon both on and off the court.
Russell's family made the announcement on his Twitter account. "It is with a very heavy heart we would like to pass along to all of Bill's friends, fans, & followers: Bill Russell, the most prolific winner in American sports history, passed away peacefully today at age 88, with his wife, Jeannine, by his side. Arrangements for his memorial service will be announced soon," reads the statement.
The announcement continues by detailing some of the many accomplishments Russell achieved throughout his life: "Bill's two state championships in high school offered a glimmer of the incomparable run of pure team accomplishment to come: twice an NCAA champion; captain of a gold-medal-winning US Olympic team; 11 times an NBA champion; and at the helm for two NBA championships as the first black head coach of any North American professional sports team."
The statement continues: "Along the way, Bill earned a string of individual awards that stands unprecedented as it went unmentioned by him. In 2009, the award for the NBA Finals most valuable player was renamed after two- time Hall of Famer as the 'Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award.' Bill's wife, Jeannine, and his many friends and family thank you for keeping Bill in your prayers. 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."
As the tweet makes clear, Russell was a towering figure in the NBA, and had a tremendous impact on what the league has become today. He'll certainly be missed.