NBA legend Bill Russell died Sunday at the age of 88, his family announced.
As the family’s announcement indicated, Russell was known for being a winner, as he won two state championships in high school, then two NCAA championships, an Olympic gold medal and, most notably, 11 NBA championships with the Boston Celtics.
Two of those championships came as he was head coach of the Celtics, making him the first Black coach in North American professional sports to win a title.
Beyond the winning of championships, Russell was a five-time NBA MVP, 12-time All-Star and is second all-time in total rebounds.
Russell was also known for being a voice in the civil rights movement, including boycotting an exhibition game in 1961.
In 2010, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“Bill called out injustice with an unforgiving candor that he intended would disrupt the status quo, and with a powerful example that, though never his humble intention, will forever inspire teamwork, selflessness and thoughtful change,” the family statement read.
In a statement, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said, “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.”
Arrangements for his memorial service are pending, the family said.