Bill Russell, Celtics Center Who Transformed Pro Basketball, Dies at 88

In 1999, he agreed to a public ceremony at the Fleet Center — the successor to Boston Garden — for the thirtieth anniversary of his final championship group and his retirement as a participant as properly the second retirement of his quantity. The occasion was additionally a fund-raiser for the National Mentoring Partnership, whose applications he had helped develop as a board member.

“There are no other people’s kids in this country,” he advised the gang. “They’re the children of the nation, and I refuse to be at war with them. I’ll always do anything I can to make life better for a kid.”

He made commercials, signed autographs for severe collectors (for a payment) and delivered motivational speeches.

Russell married for the fourth time, to Jeannine Fiorito, in 2016. His first marriage, to Rose Swisher, led to divorce, as did his second marriage, to Dorothy Anstett. His third spouse, Marilyn Nault, died in 2009 at 59.

Russell had three youngsters from his first marriage — William Jr., Jacob and Karen Kenyatta Russell. William Jr., often known as Buddha, died in 2016 at 58. Russell’s brother, a playwright and screenwriter below the title Charlie L. Russell, died in 2013 at 81. Complete info on survivors was not instantly obtainable.

Russell was uncompromising when it got here to his rules. “There are two societies in this country, and I have to recognize it, to see life for what it is and not go stark, raving mad,” he advised Sport journal in 1963, referring to the racial divide. “I don’t work for acceptance. I am what I am. If you like it, that’s nice. If not, I couldn’t care less.”

He was additionally an immensely proud man.

“If you can take something to levels that very few other people can reach,” he advised Sports Illustrated in 1999, “then what you’re doing becomes art.”

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