Bill Russell

Easton Press Bill Russell books

Red and Me - Signed First Edition - 2009


Basketball player Bill Russell

Bill Russell, born William Felton Russell on February 12, 1934, in Monroe, Louisiana, is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. His impact on the game extends far beyond the court, as he was also a trailblazer in the fight for civil rights and social justice. Russell's early years were marked by hardship and adversity. His family moved to Oakland, California, when he was young, where he faced racism and discrimination as an African American growing up in a segregated society. Despite these challenges, Russell excelled in basketball, leading his high school team to two consecutive state championships. After high school, Russell attended the University of San Francisco, where he continued to excel on the basketball court. He led the Dons to back-to-back NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956 and was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player both years. His dominance on the court caught the attention of professional teams, and in 1956, he was selected by the Boston Celtics as the second overall pick in the NBA Draft.

Russell's arrival in Boston marked the beginning of one of the most successful careers in NBA history. Over the course of his 13-year career with the Celtics, he won an unprecedented 11 NBA championships, establishing himself as a defensive stalwart and a dominant force in the paint. His unmatched shot-blocking ability, rebounding prowess, and leadership on the court earned him five NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards and 12 All-Star selections.

Off the court, Russell was also a vocal advocate for civil rights and social justice. He faced racism and discrimination throughout his career, but he refused to remain silent in the face of injustice. He became one of the first African American coaches in professional sports when he was named player-coach of the Celtics in 1966, and he used his platform to speak out against racism and inequality in society. Russell's commitment to civil rights extended beyond his playing days. He continued to be an outspoken advocate for equality and justice throughout his life, using his influence to support causes such as racial integration in sports and the advancement of African American communities. In recognition of his contributions to both basketball and civil rights, Russell was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, by President Barack Obama in 2011. His legacy as a basketball legend and a champion for social change continues to inspire generations of athletes and activists alike, solidifying his place as one of the most influential figures in American sports history.

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