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Boston Celtics basketball legend Bill Russell dies at 88

His obituary also emphasized the activism that Russell participated in off the court that greatly defined the indelible impact he made on the sports world.
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/ Source: TODAY

Bill Russell, a basketball legend known for being a centerpiece to the Boston Celtics' dynasty, has died. He was 88 years old.

"It is with a very heavy heart we would like to pass along to all of Bill’s friends, fans, and followers: Bill Russell, the most prolific winner in American sports history, passed away peacefully today at age 88, with his wife, Jeannine, by his side," a statement shared to his Twitter account said on Sunday, July 31.

The announcement went on to list all of the accomplishments of Russell's prolific career, especially during his 13 years with the Boston Celtics. Russell played on the team from 1956 to 1969.

The statement said: "Bill’s two state championships in high school offered a glimmer of the incomparable run of pure team accomplishment to come: twice an NCAA champion; captain of a gold-medal-winning US Olympic team; 11 times an NBA champion; and at the helm for two NBA championships as the first black head coach of any North American professional sports team."

"Along the way, Bill earned a string of individual awards that stands unprecedented as it went unmentioned by him," the statement continued. "In 2009, the award for the NBA Finals most valuable player was renamed after two-time Hall of Famer as the 'Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award.'"

The obituary also shared the activism that Russell participated in off the court, which defined his legacy.

"But for all the winning, Bill’s understanding of the struggle is what illuminated his life," the statement said. "From boycotting a 1961 exhibition game to unmask 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."

The statement asked that Russell's loved ones be kept in the prayers of fans, while asking those who loved him to remember him most by his trademark laugh.

"Perhaps you’ll relive one or two of the golden moments he gave us, or recall his trademark laugh as he delighted in explaining the real story behind how those moments unfolded," the statement said. "And we hope each of us can find a new way to act or speak up with Bill’s uncompromising, dignified and always constructive commitment to principle. That would be one last, and lasting, win for our beloved #6."

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.