• Bill Russell passed away peacefully at age 88 Sunday with his wife Jeannine by his side, according to his family
  • The NBA legend played for the Boston Celtics from 1956 to 1969
  • The Celtics won 11 NBA titles during Russell’s 13 years with the team

Former Boston Celtics star Bill Russell, who won 11 NBA championships and later became the league’s first Black coach, died Sunday. He was 88 years old.

Russell, who was said to be the first Black player to reach superstar status in the NBA, passed away peacefully with his wife Jeannine by his side, according to a statement posted on his Twitter. The cause of death was not mentioned.

Russell was born in 1934 in Monroe, Louisiana. His family moved to Oakland, California, when he was 8. There they lived in a series of public housing projects.

Russell attended McClymonds High School, where he won back-to-back state championships as a basketball player during his junior and senior years. In college, he played basketball for the University of San Francisco. He became the centerpiece of the team, which won the NCAA championships in both 1955 and 1956.

In addition to basketball, he was a track star at San Francisco, notably competing in the high jump. He won an Olympic gold medal in basketball as Team USA's captain in 1956 before turning professional.

Russell played for the Boston Celtics from 1956 to 1969. The Celtics won 11 NBA titles in his 13 years with the team. He was the player-coach on two of those championship teams.

Throughout his playing career, he won five MVP awards and appeared in 12 All-Star games.

Following his retirement as a player in 1969, Russell became head coach of the Seattle Supersonics from 1973 to 1977, and the Sacramento Kings from 1987 to 1988. However, neither stint was particularly successful.

Beyond coaching, he served as a color commentator on CBS and TBS. In 1979, he hosted "Saturday Night Live."

For his outstanding contributions to the NBA, he was inducted as a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the National Collegiate Hall of Fame.

He was also awarded the Medal of Freedom by former President Barack Obama in 2011, the nation's highest civilian honor. In 2017, the NBA awarded him with its Lifetime Achievement Award.

At the time of his death, Russell had an estimated net worth of $10 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

“Bill stood for something much bigger than sports: the values of equality, respect and inclusion that he stamped into the DNA of our league,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.

“At the height of his athletic career, Bill advocated vigorously for civil rights and social justice, a legacy he passed down to generations of NBA players who followed in his footsteps. Through the taunts, threats and unthinkable adversity, Bill rose above it all and remained true to his belief that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity,” added Silver.

Bill Russell, Boston Celtics
Bill Russell attends the 2019 NBA Awards presented by Kia on TNT at Barker Hangar on June 24, 2019 in Santa Monica, California. Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Turner Sports