Bill Russell, the NBA legend who was the mainstay of the Boston Celtics dynasty that won 11 champions in 13 years — the last as the first black coach in a professional league in the United States — and who marched through the civil rights along with Martin Luther King Jr., passed away on Sunday. He was 88 years old.
His family spread the news on social media. They indicated that Russell died accompanied by his wife, Jeannine. The statement did not mention the cause of death.
A member of the Hall of Fame, five times Most Valuable Player and 12 times selected for the All-Star Game, Russell was proclaimed in 1980 as the best player in NBA history after a vote by basketball writers.
Russell remains the most decorated player in the game and a model of sacrifice, dedicating himself to defensive work to let others take care of scoring the points. This often benefited Wilt Chamberlain, the only player of the era to overshadow Russell.
The on-court battles between the two centers were fierce — matchups par excellence in the NBA.
Russell led the University of San Francisco to NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956. He also won the Olympic gold medal at the 1956 Melbourne Games.
In Boston, Russell left an indelible mark as a black athlete in the midst of segregation in the city and the country. In 2011, President Barack Obama awarded Russell the Medal of Freedom. Two years ago, a statue of Russell was unveiled in Boston’s City Hall Square.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.