Celebrities, athletes honor NBA legend Bill Russell following his death

(NEW YORK) — Celebrities, athletes and politicians are paying homage to NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell, who has died at the age of 88, his family announced Sunday.

Russell died peacefully at home with his wife, Jeanine, by his side, his family said on Twitter.

Former President Barack Obama, Dr. Bernice King and Magic Johnson were among those who reacted to the news of the 11-time NBA champion’s death.

“Today, we lost a giant. As tall as Bill Russell stood, his legacy rises far higher — both as a player and as a person,” Obama said in a statement on Twitter. “I learned so much from the way he played, the way he coached, and the way he lived his life. Michelle and I send our love to Bill’s family, and everyone who admired him.”

In a statement, President Joe Biden said, “Bill Russell is one of the greatest athletes in our history — an all-time champion of champions, and a good man and great American who did everything he could to deliver the promise of America for all Americans.”

The Boston Celtics legend is “the greatest champion in all of sports,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.

Here’s a look at how other celebrity fans, athletes and more are mourning Russell’s death:

New York Knicks legend Patrick Ewing

Patrick Ewing, the current head coach of Georgetown men’s basketball, tweeted, “The world lost a legend with the passing of Bill Russell. His impact on basketball and society will not be forgotten.”

Former NBA champ Paul Pierce

Former Boston Celtics player Paul Pierce said Russell was a “trailblazer” and thanked him for “setting the bar” and his “kind words of wisdom.”

Los Angeles Lakers icon Magic Johnson

NBA legend Magic Johnson wrote that Russell was his “idol.”

“I looked up to him on the court and off. His success on the court was undeniable; he was [dominant] and great.”

Lawyer and minister Dr. Bernice King

Dr. Bernice King, daughter of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., whom Russell marched with at the March on Washington, said he “transcended sports in influencing our national and global landscape. A champion in many ways that matter.”

The Boston Celtics

Russell played with the Boston Celtics in the 1950s and 1960s, and he won 11 championships with the team as a player and two as a coach.

The team honored the legend, saying he was a “champion unlike any other in the history of team sports” and that he revolutionized how basketball was played.

Comedian Jon Stewart

“Bill Russell was one of the kindest, most thoughtful people I’ve ever met. Once called out of the blue because he thought I looked sad on TV… best pep talk of my life. RIP.”

Former Grand Slam Champion Billie Jean King

“Bill Russell was a once-in-a-generation activist athlete who made all around him better. He had a career of firsts & led the way for many. I admired him my entire life & he had a huge influence on my career. He was the ultimate leader, ultimate team player & ultimate champion,” the tennis legend wrote.

GMA anchor Robin Roberts

“So sad to hear of the passing of one of the all-time greats… sending love and condolences to the Russell family.”

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