Bill Russell, one of the greatest players in the history of the NBA, has died. Russell’s official Twitter account announced the news of his passing Sunday afternoon.
The legendary Boston Celtics star big man —who won 11 championships and five league MVP awards — died at the age of 88.
The NBA big man and Hall of Famer passed away peacefully with his longtime wife by his side, according to the announcement.
“Bill’s wife, Jeannie, and his many friends and family thank you for keeping Bill in your prayers,” the statement reads. “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.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued the following statement today regarding the passing of Bill Russell:
“Bill Russell was the greatest champion in all of team sports. The countless accolades that he earned for his storied career with the Boston Celtics – including a record 11 championships and five MVP awards – only begin to tell the story of Bill’s immense impact on our league and broader society.
“Bill stood for something much bigger than sports: the values of equality, respect and inclusion that he stamped into the DNA of our league. At the height of his athletic career, Bill advocated vigorously for civil rights and social justice, a legacy he passed down to generations of NBA players who followed in his footsteps. Through the taunts, threats and unthinkable adversity, Bill rose above it all and remained true to his belief that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity.
“For nearly 35 years since Bill completed his trailblazing career as the league’s first Black head coach, we were fortunate to see him at every major NBA event, including the NBA Finals, where he presented the Bill Russell Trophy to the Finals MVP.
“I cherished my friendship with Bill and was thrilled when he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“I often called him basketball’s Babe Ruth for how he transcended time. Bill was the ultimate winner and consummate teammate, and his influence on the NBA will be felt forever. We send our deepest condolences to his wife, Jeannine, his family and his many friends.”
May he rest in peace.