Bill Russell honored by congressional resolution led by Ed Markey, Elizabeth Warren, Ayanna Pressley

"May he rest in peace and power."

Bill Russell
Late Celtics great Bill Russell was honored with a resolution led by Massachusetts legislators. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

Massachusetts legislators introduced a resolution to honor Bill Russell on Wednesday.

Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, along with Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley introduced the legislation in honor of the Celtics great, who died on July 31 at 88. Per Markey’s office, the resolution aims to honor Russell’s career and civil rights advocacy.

“Bill Russell was a hero, a disruptor, a leader, a giant,” Markey said in a statement. “He was brilliance, fairness, and justice personified. The greatest winner in the history of all sports and the conscience of our city and country. We honor Bill Russell’s legacy as a Celtic, a champion, and a crusader. With a heavy heart, we express our deepest condolences to his friends and family and his fans for this loss.”


Russell won 11 championships in 13 seasons and became the first Black head coach in the NBA — leading the Celtics to a pair of titles as a player and coach.

Warren highlighted Russell’s efforts on and off the court.

“Not only did he help lead the Celtics to an astounding 11 NBA championships, but he was also committed to courageous and righteous fights — marching alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking out against segregation in Boston public schools during the prime of his career, and regularly championing civil rights and racial justice,” Warren said. “I’m thankful to partner with Senator Markey and Representative Pressley to honor his legacy.”

In addition to marching with King and advocating against segregation in Boston, Russell supported Muhammad Ali’s refusal to enter the military. Russell was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by then-President Barack Obama in 2011, and the city of Boston put up a statue in his honor in 2013.

“Bill Russell was an undisputed champion both on the court and off, and he was an unapologetic advocate for a more just and equitable world. But most importantly, he was a man with a family and beloved community,” Pressley said in a statement. “Congressional intent is powerful, and a resolution is a statement of Congress’ appreciation for Bill Russell’s endless contributions throughout his lifetime.


“I give my heartfelt condolences to his loved ones. May he rest in peace and power.”


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