Bill Russell

American professional basketball player

Bill Russell
an American professional basketball player Source: Instagram

Bill Russell is an American professional basketball player who was awarded NBA Most Valuable Player five times. William Felton Russell, a center in the National Basketball Association, played with the Boston Celtics from 1956 until 1969. He is also the most championship-winning athlete in North America.

Bill Russell | Early Life And Education

An American professional basketball player, Bill Russell was born on February 12, 1934, in Monroe, Louisiana, United States. Moreover, Russell’s parents were Charles Russell and Katie Russell.

He had a difficult childhood and was frequently the victim of racism, as any other black person would be at the time.

His father was once held at gunpoint and threatened with death. Even a police officer bullied Katie because he was black. So, when Bill was eight years old, the Russell family relocated to California in search of a better life.


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The Russell family faced terrible poverty after relocating to California. Bill spent his entire childhood in public housing developments.

Charles then became a truck driver to help support his family. But, just as they felt their situation was improving, the Russells were dealt a devastating emotional blow.

Bill’s mother died unexpectedly when he was only twelve years old. Bill found it difficult to accept the death of his mother because he was closer to her than to his father.

So, in order to care for his semi-orphaned child, Charles quit his job as a truck driver and went to work as a steelworker.


He finished his early schooling in the United States at the McClymonds School. He then registered at the University of San Francisco on his own.

Moreover, He has always shown a greater interest in playing basketball and participating in extracurricular activities than in academics.

Bill Russell |  Career

All the recruiters first disregarded Bill, but Hal DeJio of the University of San Francisco changed his mind after watching him play in a high school game.

Despite Bill’s lackluster performance, Hall recognized his commitment to the sport and extended an offer of a full scholarship, which Bill accepted.

Bill came to the conclusion that basketball was his sole means of escaping poverty and elevating himself to the top one day.


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However, it was difficult because Bill and his black teammates frequently faced bigotry. When Bill and his black buddies were competing in the competition, the hotel refused to let them stay there.

They were forced to spend the night camped out in the dorm. But as the saying goes, there is always some good in bad; Bill was one of those cases. Everyone bonded nicely as a result of their worst experience turning into their best moment as a team.

Bill’s squad won twenty-eight of the twenty-nine games they played in during his junior year. Even better, he won the national championship and was named MVP in the championship game.

Russell’s outstanding play helped USF win the NCAA Championship twice. Bill averaged 20.7 points per game towards the end of his collegiate career.

Track and Field

Bill had also competed in track and field events for his institution. He was the ideal candidate to represent USF since he could jump, had long legs, and had large hands.

In addition, he was regarded as the world’s #7 best jumper in 1956.


Russell had already established himself as the best basketball player in the nation by 1956. Bill was desired by Red Auerbach, the Boston Celtics’ head coach at the time.

To add Russell to his club, Red had to make trades involving some of Boston’s top players.


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When the transaction was struck, Boston agreed to send the Rochester Royals their two finest players, Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan of Boston, in exchange for trading Bill.

Unexpectedly, Red surrendered his team’s two top players to get Bill. Thus, Bill was selected by the Boston Celtics in this manner, and this draft day is regarded as one of the most significant trades in the annals of North American sports.

Due to his commitments to playing in the Olympics, Bill was unable to join the Celtics for the first half of the season after being selected.

However, he played forty-eight games after his return in December, scoring 14 points on average. Bill played in his first game against the Bob Pettit-led St. Louis Hawks.

Because they knew Bill would be there if a dispute developed, the Celtics at the time encouraged their players to play hard. Let’s say Bill was the Celtics’ superhero or ultimate warrior because he was always ready to save them.

The consequence was that Boston won forty-four seasons in 1957, which is the second-best mark for the Bostons behind 1947.

First NBA Victory and Success

But Bill is portrayed negatively by all of these events. When Russell once punched Ray Felix, he received a $25 punishment. The truth, however, is that Red gave Bill permission to handle the situation himself after being repeatedly provoked by Felix.


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The Celtics won the NBA Championship for the first time in the history of their franchise thanks to Bill’s outstanding assistance and Bob Pettit’s direction.

Then, in his second season, Bill and his group won fourteen straight games. Bill averaged 16.6 points each game.

Then, after defeating the Minneapolis Lakers in the championship game, the Celtics overcame their archrival Hawks with some outstanding play and reclaimed the NBA Championship.

And following this triumph, Boston won all fifty-two games, shattering the NBA record.


Bill was dominating the field and breaking records left and right. Even Wilt Chamberlain, the star player for the Philadelphia Warriors, was defeated by him.

Bill and the Boston Celtics won the NBA Championship eight years in a row from 1959 to 1966.
When Red decided to resign later in 1967, he had to choose a new head coach.

Red made three decisions, but none of them were predetermined, thus Red insisted Bill lead his squad as a coach.

A member of the black ethnic community held the position of head coach for the first time in NBA history. The club lost its eight-year streak because Bill was a player and wasn’t prepared to be the head coach.


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Russell’s performance was gradually deteriorating, yet even in his forties, he averaged 12 points a game. Boston once had a losing streak in every game, leading everyone to believe the Celtics were doomed.

No team in NBA history has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit with such a boom, but Boston proved everyone wrong and did so.

However, Bill was heartbroken by the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in 1968 and decided he no longer wanted to play for the United States. Following that, Bill’s performance declined, and Boston continued to lose games.

Russell won his eleventh NBA Championship in his final NBA game. Boston staged a party after a few days because Boston had prevailed following such a long time


Bill was a sports analyst for ABC Sports. In addition, he skipped every occasion held in his honor, including the Hall of Fame induction ceremony and the jersey retiring ceremony.

He additionally served as a coach with the Sacramento Kings and Seattle SuperSonics.

Bill Russell | Honors And Achievements

  • several times Most Valuable Player in the NBA
  • twelve times an NBA All-Star
  • 1963 NBA All-Star Game MVP
  • NBA First Team All-Star, three times Second Team All-NBA

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Bill Russell | Net Worth

Russell was one of the NBA’s first basketball players to make a significant amount of money during his career.

Bill Russell had a net worth of $10 million at the time of his death.

Bill Russell | Personal Life

Bill’s personal life had not been as successful as his professional one, and his two failed marriages had surely made a mess of his love life.

First, in 1956, he wed Rose Swisher, his high school love. He even had three children with Swisher, but in 1973, the two of them split up over communication issues.

In 1968, he wed Dorothy Anstett once more; she was also Miss USA at the time. After three years of marriage, Bill and Dorothy got a divorce in 1980.


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Bill met Marilyn Nault, the joy of his life, in 1996. Still, sadly, this partnership could not endure; however, this time, the reason for its failure was not a divorce, but Nault’s unavoidable passing in 2009.

Finally, he blissfully wed Jeannine Russell, and the two of them are now enjoying the greatest years of their lives.

Bill Russell | Body Measurement

Russell measures 2.08 m in height. He weighs was something about 98 kg.

Bill Russell | Death

Bill Russell never experienced a serious illness and was in good physical health. He was taken to a hospital in Seattle in 2018 after becoming dehydrated.

But he later announced on social media that he had been released the next day and refuted rumors that his stay was due to cardiac issues.


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As the first Black head coach of the NBA, Russell led the Celtics to 11 NBA titles, including the final two. Later, Russell died on July 31, 2022. Bill’s wife Jeannine stood at his side as he “died quietly.”

His family acknowledged his death, but they did not provide any other information.

Social Media Presence


Bill Russell: Does He Still Exist?

Sadly, on August 31st, the 88-year-old pioneer and great player passed away at his home.

What influence did Bill Russell have on the civil rights movement?

Throughout his career, he battled against racial injustice and marched alongside Martin Luther King in the Washington civil rights movement.

When Muhammad Ali opted not to join the military, the legend helped him out.

Who is the daughter of Bill Russell?

Karen Russell

How many titles did Bill Russell win while he was active?

Over the course of his career, Bill has won 11 championships in total. During his career, he also won the NBA Most Valuable Player title five times, which is unusual.

Quick Facts

Full Name Bill Felton Russell
Birth Date February 12, 1934
Birth Place Monroe, Louisiana, United States
Died On  Sunday, July 31, 2022
  • Mr. 11 Rings
  • The Secretary of Defense
Age 88 Years Old
Nationality American
Ethnicity Black
  • McClymonds High School
  • University of San Francisco
Horoscope Aquarius
Father’s Name Charles Russell
Mother’s Name Katie Russell
Siblings Charles L. Russell
Height 6 ft. 10 inches (2.08 m)
Weight 98 kg (215 lbs)
Hair Color Black
Eye Color Black
Build Athletic
Sexual Orientation Straight
Marital Status Married
Wife Jeannine Russell
  • Rose Swisher
  • Dorothy Anstett
  • Marilyn Nault
  • Jacob Russell
  • William Russell Jr.
  • Karen Russell
Profession Professional Basketball Player
Affiliation NBA
Debut Year 1956
Position Center
Active Years 1956-1964
Career Earnings $10 Million
Salary $100k
Merch Paperback (Go Up for Glory) (Bill Russell: A Biography)
Social Media InstagramTwitter



Written by LIsa Boothe

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