A look back at the life and career of Bill Russell

The 11-time champion's career spanned over 60 years.

Celtics player-coach Bill Russell in 1968. In background, right to left, Tom "Satch" Sanders, John Havlicek, Don Nelson.

Bill Russell, a basketball legend who made history with the Boston Celtics, has died, his family announced Sunday. He was 88 years old.

Russell’s career spanned over 60 years, from college basketball, to leading the Celtics to 11 championships, to becoming first black head coach for a North American professional sports team, to his social justice initiatives.

Here’s a look back at Russell’s prolific career in photos.

Feb. 23, 1956 – Bill Russell, member of the University of San Francisco basketball team, scores a basket. Ranked one of the best centers, he helped his team win 20 straight games during the 1956 season. (AP Photo/File)
Dec. 19, 1956 – Bill Russell signs his contract with the Boston Celtics of the NBA at Boston Garden alongside Celtics owners Walter Brown (left) and Lou Pieri (right). (AP Photo/File)
April 24, 1963 – Bill Russell hoists teammate Bob Cousy in a victory hug after the Celtics won their fifth consecutive NBA championship, beating the Lakers 112-109 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ed Widdis, File)
Dec. 12, 1964Bill Russell is congratulated by coach Arnold “Red” Auerbach after scoring his 10,000th point in an NBA game against the Baltimore Bullets in Boston Garden. (AP Photo/File)
May 6, 1969 – Bill Russell and his wife, Rose, are greeted at Logan Airport by Governor Francis Sargent as they return home after the Boston Celtics won their 11th World Championship title against the Los Angeles Lakers. The total playoff earnings for the team was $93,000. When asked what he would do with the cash, Russell replied, “The money? I’m going to spend it. I still haven’t figured out a way where I can send it ahead or take it with me, so I’m going to spend it.” (Bill Brett/Globe Staff)
March 12, 1972 – In a ceremony held in Boston Garden, the Boston Celtics retired the number of Bill Russell (second from left) following his retirement. Participating in the ceremony were, from left, Celtics player John Havlicek, general manager Man Red Auerbach, coach Tom Heinsohn, and players Don Chaney and Tom Sanders. (File/Boston Globe)
Nov. 14, 1973 – Seattle Supersonics coach Bill Russell and Boston Celtics coach Tom Heinsohn, former Celtics teammates, embrace before their teams face one another at the Boston Garden. (Associated Press/Wire Photo)
Jan. 15, 1988 — Former Boston Celtics teammates Bill Russell, coach of the Sacramento Kings, and K.C. Jones, coach of the Boston Celtics, meet before the start of the Kings-Celtics NBA basketball game at the Boston Garden. (AP Photo/Mike Kullen, File)
May 25, 1999 – Bill Russell and Larry Bird share a laugh during legends night while celebrating the closing of Boston Garden. (Lane Turner/Globe Staff)
Feb. 14, 2009 – Bill Russell learns the most valuable player award for the NBA basketball championships has been renamed the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)
Feb. 25, 2011 – Bill Russell is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington, D.C. Obama said the 14 recipients awarded the 2011 Presidential Medal of Freedom “reveal the best of who we are and who we aspire to be.” (Bloomberg Photo/Andrew Harrer)
April 9, 2014 Bill Russell and Jim Brown take questions from Dr. Harry Edwards at the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas. The summit marked the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Civil Rights Act legislation.  (Ricardo B. Brazziell-Pool/Getty Images)
December 18, 2017Bill Russell shakes hands with Kobe Bryant at halftime after both of Bryant’s #8 and #24 Lakers jerseys are retired at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

July 31, 2022 –  Max Watkins, 7, pays his respects to Celtics Legend Bill Russell, who passed away today. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)

Share your favorite Bill Russell moments.

Your name may be published.
Your Neighborhood/Town may be published.
What are your preferred pronouns?

Please select your preferred pronoun so we may correctly refer to your response in an article.
Please enter an email address and/or phone number that we can easily contact you with. We may reach out for more information. It will NOT be published.


This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com