You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Red Sox Live

3

3

▲  4th Inning 0 outs

Photo Gallery | From the Archives

Bill Russell’s career

May 6, 1969: Bill Russell greeted fans after the Celtics won the NBA title.

Bill Brett/Globe staff

May 6, 1969: Bill Russell greeted fans after the Celtics won the NBA title.

When Bill Russell debuted for the Boston Celtics on December 22, 1956, fans knew the team had the centerpiece for the defensive style of play that would eventually yield eleven championships in the next thirteen years. What they couldn’t have known was that Russell would prove as important off the the court as he was on it. He defended personal dignity in the face of institutionalized racism in society as aggressively as he defended the basket on the court. Russell appeared fashionably dressed on television talk shows as his celebrity status grew and transcended his basketball career. Still receiving accolades for his dual role in sport and society, Russell’s notoriously strained relationship with Boston has warmed. The National Basketball Association named its Finals MVP award for him, President Barack Obama recognized him with the Medal of Freedom, and a statue planned for the city will reflect not just the athlete, but the man. -- Lane Turner and Lisa Tuite

Continue reading it below

Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.