NBA legend Bill Russell, 'most prolific winner in American sports,' dies

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(NEXSTAR) – Bill Russell, one of the greatest NBA players in history, has passed away at age 88, his family announced Sunday.

Russell, called “the most prolific winner in American sports history” by his family, was an 11-time NBA champion, captain of a gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympic team, and the first Black head coach of any North American professional sports team.

“But for all the winning, Bill’s understanding of the struggle is what illuminated his life,” Russell’s family said in a statement. “From boycotting a 1961 exhibition game to [unmasking] too-long-tolerated discrimination, to leading Mississippi’s first integrated basketball camp in the combustible wake of Medgar Evans’ assassination, to decades of activism ultimately recognized by his receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010, 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.”

Russell “passed away peacefully” with his wife, Jeannine, by his side on Sunday. His cause of death has not yet been released.

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