Obit-Bill Russell Basketball

FILE - Boston Celtics' Bill Russell, left, holds a corsage sent to the dressing room as he celebrates with Celtics coach Red Auerbach after defeating the Los Angeles Lakers, 95-93, to win their eighth-straight NBA Championship, in Boston, in this April 29, 1966, photo. The NBA great Bill Russell has died at age 88. His family said on social media that Russell died on Sunday, July 31, 2022. Russell anchored a Boston Celtics dynasty that won 11 titles in 13 years. 

BOSTON — Bill Russell redefined how basketball is played, and then he changed the way sports are viewed in a racially divided country.

The most prolific winner in NBA history, Russell marched with Martin Luther King Jr., stood with Muhammad Ali and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. The centerpiece of the Boston Celtics dynasty that won 11 championships in 13 years, Russell earned his last two NBA titles as a player-coach — the first Black coach in any major U.S. sport.

Russell died Sunday at the age of 88, with his wife, Jeannine, at his side, his family said in a statement posted on social media. No cause of death was immediately available; Russell, who had been living in the Seattle area, was not well enough to present the NBA Finals MVP trophy in June due to a long illness.

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