Working-3-hickey-river-trees.jpg
NPR News, Classical and Music of the Delta
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Bill Russell, NBA star and civil rights pioneer, dies at 88

The NBA great Bill Russell died at age 88. His family said on social media that Russell died on Sunday, July 31. The statement did not give the cause of death, but Russell was not well enough to present the NBA Finals MVP trophy in June due to a long illness.

Russell anchored a Boston Celtics dynasty that won 11 titles in 13 years. His last two were as the first Black head coach in any major U.S. sport.

Russell was a Hall of Famer, five-time MVP, and 12-time All-Star. He won with defense and rebounding and waged battles with Wilt Chamberlain.

Russell also marched for civil rights with Martin Luther King Jr. and stood with boxer Muhammad Ali when he refused military induction.