11-time NBA champion Bill Russell died Sunday at the age of 88.
His family made the announcement via the through his Twitter account. The reason for the death has not been made public.
Russell is arguably one of the most decorated athletes in North American sports history, having helped the Boston Celtics win 11 titles in 13 years, from 1956 to 1969. He was named player five times NBA MVP and 12-time All-Star Team.
Only the late Henri Richard, 11-time Stanley Cup champion with the Montreal Canadiens, could boast of having accumulated so many titles.
Considered as one of the best defensive players in his sport, Russell was also the first African American to lead a major North American league team. A two-time player-coach champion with the Celtics, he was twice inducted into the Hall of Fame, as a player and as an instructor.
In his career as a player, he averaged 15.1 points, 22.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists. As a coach, he claimed a 341-290 record with the Celtics, Seattle SuperSonics and Sacramento Kings.
In addition to his exploits on the field, Russell also used his notoriety to further the cause of black people. Among other gestures of protest, he notably boycotted a preparatory match in 1961. For his work, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010.
“Bill's wife, Jeannine, his family and his friends thank you for keeping Bill in your prayers, a statement read. Maybe you'll relive a magical moment or two he gave us or remember his unique laugh.”
“We hope now that each of us can find a new way to act or speak according to the principles dear to Bill. It would be a final – and lasting – victory for our beloved number 6.”