Sunday (Jul.31), the official Twitter account for NBA Hall-of-Famer Bill Russell broke the sad news that the legendary hooper died.
“Bill Russell, the most prolific winner in American sports history, passed away peacefully at age 88, with his wife, Jeannine, by his side,” the statement announced, accompanied by a photo of Russell and Jeannine. “Arrangements for his memorial service will be announced soon.”
The statement goes on to relive all of the spectacular moments the towering 6’10” big man pushed the game of basketball to new heights, including the promising dominance he exhibited as a teenager and winning eight straight NBA championships.
“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.
He played in the league from 1956 until 1969 solely with the Celtics but would later spread his wings as a coach in not only Boston but the Seattle Supersonics and Sacramento Kings.
But the obituary doesn’t just include what he brought to the court, but how he used his star power to fight for Black equality throughout the country. It began with boycotting games back in the 1960s, directing Mississippi’s first integrated basketball camp, and decades more work –like eventually kneeling in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick — that led to him receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010 from President Barack Obama.
“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,” the loving obituary concludes.
We may have lost a trailblazer today, but social media is paying its respects to the barrier-breaking star. See how the sports world is reacting below.