Russell, William Fenton (Bill)

Russell, William Fenton (Bill) (b. February 12, 1934), American basketball player, he led the Boston Celtics to 11 National Basketball Association (NBA) championship titles and was voted by sportswriters in 1980 to be the "Greatest Player in the History of the NBA."

Graduating from McClymonds High School in Oakland, California, in 1952, at his NBA height of six feet, ten inches, Russell won an athletic scholarship to the University of San Francisco (USF). He led USF to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships in 1955 and 1956. Russell was part of the 1956 United States Olympic Team, which won the gold medal in Melbourne, Australia. He then joined the Boston Celtics. Playing from 1957 to 1969, he led the Celtics to 11 championship titles. He was revered as the league's best rebounder and defensive player. He was named the NBA's Most Valuable Player five times, and played in 12 All-Star games. In 1966, while still an active player, Russell began coaching the Celtics, becoming the first African American coach in the NBA. As player-coach he led the Celtics to two NBA championships. From 1973 to 1977 he coached the fledgling Seattle SuperSonics, and briefly the Sacramento Kings. He was inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1975.

A leader off the court as well, he was a vigilant defender of equal rights for African American athletes. In 1966, at the height of his career, Russell voiced a powerful assertion of black pride and protest with his autobiography, Go Up For Glory.