Statement by Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights President Kerry Kennedy on the passing of Bill Russell

A Hall of Famer who led the Boston Celtics to 11 NBA Championships.

The first Black head coach in an American sports league.

But Bill Russell was so much more than that.

Russell, who died Sunday at age 88, was not only a basketball legend but a towering figure in the civil rights movement.

He revolutionized the game, giving a new definition to ‘team player,’ while also championing racial justice.

Generations of professional, college, and high school athletes stand on his shoulders.

Bill spoke truth to power; he was a good friend to my family, volunteered for my uncle Senator Edward Kennedy’s campaign as early as the 1960s when his back was broken, and he was a faithful supporter of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. He also came to nearly every RFK Golf Tournament for over a decade.

President John F. Kennedy was a huge fan of Bill Russell’s and almost never missed watching a Celtics game from the White House.

We’ll always treasure his quiet generosity, his individuality, his commitment to social justice, and that great, big laugh.