‘We strive to be like Bill Russell’: Devin McCourty shared his thoughts on the Celtics legend

"I've tried to emulate it and follow in his footsteps."

Devin McCourty
Devin McCourty in 2021. AP Photo/Matt Patterson

In reacting to the news of Bill Russell’s death, Patriots safety Devin McCourty gave a glimpse into how the legacy of the Celtics legend will endure for years to come.

Speaking to reporters following a training camp practice on Monday, the 34-year-old McCourty shared his thoughts on Russell.

“I’m a huge basketball fan so [it] was before my time but I knew who Bill Russell was,” McCourty explained of knowing who Russell was as a child.

“Coming here and just learning his story, I think initially all we know is — especially younger people — is Bill Russell: champion, winner,” McCourty added.


During his career, Russell helped the Celtics win the team’s first 11 championships (including two as a player-coach). But beyond success on the court, McCourty cited Russell’s work as an activist.

“Just his willingness and vulnerability to be very open about what he went through, and wanting change, and I think as an athlete who plays in this area, I drew a lot of inspiration and motivation from how he viewed things,” said McCourty, “and the road that he paved for Black athletes to be able to be successful in this city and sports in general.”

In explaining how he viewed Russell, McCourty paid the late Celtics great the highest compliment.

“I think that’s what — all of us here — we strive to be like Bill Russell,” he said.

During his lengthy NFL career, McCourty has not only worked with local charity organizations, but has tried to make an impact at a legislative level (advocating for an increase in education spending in 2019).

“Obviously I’ve tried to do a lot of different things in my time here, and a lot of that has been reading about Bill Russell,” said McCourty, “reading articles he wrote, different things that he stood for. I’ve tried to emulate it and follow in his footsteps.”


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