5 things you didn’t know about the legendary Bill Russell – NBCNEWS

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Hall of fame and former Boston Celtic great Bill Russell has died aged 88.

tThe world lost a giant this weekend (July 31). Former Boston Celtics great Bill Russell Family sources say he passed away peacefully on Sunday afternoon. The legendary center was 88 years old, but has had an immeasurable impact on everyone it encountered.

Russell was one of the most decorated athletes of all time. At the University of San Francisco, where he attended college, Russell was a two-time All-American, winning two consecutive NCAA championships and leading the team to 55 straight wins. He was also on the 1956 Olympic team that won the gold medal in Melbourne, Australia.

Bill Russell

Source: Bettmann/Getty

After being absolutely amazing at the amateur level, Russell would continue his greatness with the pros. In 13 years with the Boston Celtics, Russell led the team to the NBA Finals 12 times, winning 11 of them. He won the last two titles as a player and as the NBA’s first black coach.

From the archives: Wilt Chamberlain plays the Celtics

Source: Boston Globe/Getty

While his presence was certainly felt on the pitch, it was off the pitch where he became an icon. Bill Russell was one of the first athletes to actively fight racial injustice. Whether he boycotted a 1961 exhibition game to denounce discrimination or led the first integrated basketball camp in Mississippi after the murder of Medgar Evers, he never shirked the challenge of activism. He was honored for his efforts in 2011 when former President Barack Obama rewarded him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his achievements on court and in the civil rights movement.

Considered one of the greatest basketball players, let alone athletes of all time, Russell has undoubtedly left his mark. He inspired a generation of athletes to stand up for the things they thought mattered. He is a one-on-one because not only was he able to give everything on the floor, but he was also willing to risk everything. Rest in paradise for a historical figure! Here are 6 facts you may not have known about the legend.

1. In between his coaching jobs, Russell also served as a commentator for televised basketball games.

2. Russell attended the 1963 March on Washington where civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the ‘I Have A Dream’ speech.

3. From 1973-1977, Russell was the general manager and head coach of the Seattle Supersonics.

4. He was the founder and emeritus board member of MENTOR: The National Mentorship Partnership.

5. Russell’s eleven championships are the most shared by any athlete in the four major North American professional sports (the NHL’s Henri Richard also has eleven).

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5 things you didn’t know about the legendary Bill Russell
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