Bill Russell Biography Facts, Childhood, Net Worth, Life

Bill Russell Biography Facts, Childhood, Net Worth, Life
NBA Legend Bill Russell Biography, Childhood, Career, Accomplishments & Awards. (Image credits: NBA / Getty Images)

Bill Russell is a retired American basketball player who played professionally in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Boston Celtics. Throughout his 13-year career, he enjoyed a successful spell with the Celtics. Russell who began his professional career in the NBA in 1956 and ended it in 1969 with a total of eleven NBA championships won, is arguably one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Bill Russel biography facts, childhood, net worth and personal life present a complete rundown of the profile, career and life from childhood to date, of the 12-time All-Star and 5-time NBA MVP.

Bill Russell Biography Facts, Age, Family, Wife, Children

  • Full Name: William Felton Russell
  • Born: 12th February 1934
  • Age: 86 years old
  • Place of Birth: Monroe, Louisiana, United States
  • Nationality: American
  • Height: 6 ft 9 in (2.08 m)
  • Weight: 64 kg (215 lb)
  • Education:
    • High School: McClymonds High School
    • College: University of San-Francisco
  • Occupation: Basketball Player
  • NBA Draft: 1956 (Round 1; Pick 2) by St. Louis Hawks
  • Position: Center
  • League: NBA
  • Kit Number: #6
  • Playing Career: 1956–1969 (Boston Celtics)
  • Coaching Career: 1966–1969, 1973–1988
  • Net Worth: $10 million
  • Parents:
    • Father: Charles Russell
    • Mother: Kutie Rusell
  • Wife: Jeannine Russell (married 2019)
  • Children: Karen Russell; William Jr. Russell; Jacob Russell
  • Zodiac Sign: Aquarius

Early life Childhood Story, Family Background & Early Life

Bill Russell Early Childhood Photo
Early childhood photo of Bill Russell in ’40s. He and his parents suffered threw segregation and racism at the time. (Image credit: timetoast.com)

William Felton Russell was born on the 12th February 1934 to Mr Charles Russell and Mrs Kutie Russell. He suffered a financially depressed childhood and faced racial discriminations as a black in the southern state of Louisiana, United States. Although his father was described on several occasions by many who knew him as an authoritative and firm personality, he worked hard as a cleaner and impacted into Bill’s life, helping him in his rise to stardom.

The family moved from Louisiana to Oakland during World War II due to employment opportunities for the blacks in the west at the time. There, his father initially worked as a truck driver and Bill Russell lost his mother at the age of 12. Due to the demise of his mother, Bill’s father decided to work in a steel factory in order to provide emotional support for his children.

Bill Russell High School Basketball Career

While studying at the McClymonds High School, he was introduced to basketball as he participated in the school team. Although possessing a perfect basketball height and huge hands to aid his efficiency, Bill Russell initially had struggles in understanding the game. While featuring in the high school team, he was dumped many times for his inability to comprehend game rules and scopes.

Bill Russell College Basketball Career, Achievements & Awards

Bill Russell attended the University of San-Francisco and played on the school team presumably due to his height advantage. At this point in his life, Russell noticed that basketball could change the problems of poverty and racism and then added more seriousness and passion to his play. Due to malnutrition as a child, Russell was a lightweight player but built an exclusive manner of play as a centre to help the defence.

He opted for speed and marking from blind spots rather than man-marking; with this style, he could move to advance positions to help the attack and also run back to assist the defence. He was also involved in several build-ups and could intelligently help the team in tight areas and big games. Due to his height, the NCAA changed some rules that could foster the progress of Bill Russell and other NBA prospects with tall frames. He won the NCAA in his finals and even earned recognition as a shot-blocker and defensive maestro. He recorded a mean score of 20.7 points and 20.3 rebounds per game.

Bill Russell NBA Career, Achievements & Awards

Boston Celtics (1956–1969)

Bill Russell who was drafted by the St. Louis Hawks as its first-round second overall pick in the 1956 NBA draft earned a draft trade and was acquired by the Boston Celtics but soon after participated in the Olympics which delayed his participation with the Celtics. Russell led the US national team in aspects of points, recording an average14.1 points per game.

On joining the Celtics during the mid-season, he made his professional debut against the St. Louis Hawks. Russell immediately made an impact by improving the Celtics defence with his shot-blocking talent. He helped the team to the play-offs and his shot-blocking abilities were efficient in the NBA final against the St. Louis Hawks which the Celtics narrowly won. The following season, Russell earned the NBA MVP award and helped the Celtics to another NBA final which they lost.

In the 1958/59 season, the Celtics won the NBA championship with Russell making the most defensive impact in the team. The Celtics went on to win 8 more back-to-back NBA championships winning five against the Lakers in the finals to set up one of the biggest rivalries in the NBA. In the 1961/62 season, Bill Russell recorded his career highest score by an average of 18.9 points and 23.6 rebounds per game; he also scored 30 points and 40 rebounds in the finals helping the Celtics to defeat a rugged Lakers side.

In the 1962/63 season, Russell was named the NBA Most Valuable Player and won the honour again the following year after winning the NBA championship again. After losing manager Red Auerbach to retirement in the 1966/67 season, Russell picked up the managerial position as a player-coach. In his 1st season, the Celtics failed to reach and win the NBA finals for the 1st time in 8 years. However, he still performed well as a player the following season and led the team to yet another NBA championship title.

Bill Russell, Celtics, 1967
Bill Russell in action with Boston Celtics in 1967. (Image credit: NBA)

The victory got Russell his 10th NBA Championship title in 12 career years and the Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year Award. His last season came in 1968/69 as he began to age and lose interest in the professionalism of basketball. Yet, he led the Celtics to the NBA championships in a victory over the Lakers and immediately announced his retirement from basketball as a coach and player. Although the whole club and their supporters felt betrayed with Russell’s professional basketball demise, the Celtics board retired his #6 kit number 3 years after his retirement.

Bill Russell Coaching Career

After his initial retirement from basketball as a player-coach, Russell worked as a commentator from 1970-73 then returned to basketball to coach the Seattle Supersonics. He brought a defensive style of play and led his side to the playoffs, the first in their franchise history. In 1987, Russell began coaching the Sacramento Kings but was fired due to lack of performances following a loss in the opening fixture of the 1988/89 season.

Bill Russell Net worth, Earnings & Endorsements

Currently, Russell’s estimated net worth is about $10 million. During his days playing in the NBA, brands were not accustomed to signing sponsorship and endorsement deals with players. However, Russell was one of the huge earners in the NBA and didn’t have to work part-time so as to maintain his standard of living as it was the case with other NBA players at the time. He received as much as $100,001 annually, plus an extra $25,000 as a player-coach.

Bill Russell Statue & Hall of Fame

Bill Russell's statue outside the Boston City Hall
Bill Russell’s bronze statue outside the Boston City Hall was unveiled in 2013. (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

In 2013, Boston erected a significant statue of their legend, Bill Russell right outside the Boston City Hall Plaza. He was also inaugurated to the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Basketball hall of fame in 1975.

Bill Russell Personal life, Spouse & Trivia

Bill Russell has been married on 4 different occasions but had never kept a marriage for up to 2 decades, the longest being 17 years (1956–1973) to a lady called Rose. His marriage with Rose produced 3 children of which one, Karen Russell is a renowned television pundit and lawyer. As at 2020, Bill Russell is married to Jeannine Russell and the couple appears frequently together on his Instagram.

Bill Russell with his wife Jeannine Russell
Bill Russell with his wife, Jeannine Russell, wearing Los Angeles Lakers’ jersey in a game against the Celtics vs Lakers, in honour of the late NBA legend Kobe Bryant – 24 February 2020. (Image credit: Bill Russell / Instagram)

Russell is a resident of Mercer Island, Washington where he stays with his wife.

In 2009, the NBA changed the name of the finals MVP from NBA finals MVP award to Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award.

In 2011, the United States ex-president, President Barack Obama honoured Bill Russell with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in favour of his sporting achievements as well as in the civil rights movement.

In 1979, Russell teamed up with professional writers to publish the ‘Second Wind’ book and also featured in a 1986 movie named ‘The fix’ as Judge Ferguson.

In 2005, Russell recorded bankruptcy after investing an estimated amount of $250,000 to finance a rubber plantation project in Liberia.


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