Former US President Barack Obama honors Bill Russell with a touching tribute: “As great as Bill Russell is, his legacy rises so much higher, both as a player and as a person.”

Today, the NBA world continues to mourn the passing of basketball legend Bill Russell. After he was announced dead this morning, many league figures offered their condolences and shared their own experiences with the 11x champion.

On Twitter, even former US President Barack Obama felt compelled to make a statement honoring the Celtics legend.

Today we lost a giant. As great as Bill Russell is, his legacy goes way higher, both as a player and as a person.

Perhaps more than anyone, Bill knew what it took to win and what it took to lead. On the court, he was the greatest champion in the history of basketball. Apart from that, he was a civil rights pioneer – marching with Dr King and standing alongside Muhammad Ali.

For decades Bill endured insults and vandalism, but that never stopped him from standing up for what is right. I learned so much from his way of playing, his way of coaching and his way of living his life.

Michelle and I send our love to Bill’s family and all who looked up to him.

Bill Russell is obviously one of the most accomplished players of all time. In just 13 seasons, he was 12x All-Star, 11x champion and 5x MVP. He averaged 15.1 points, 22.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game on 44% shooting for his career.

Most importantly, Bill will be remembered for everything he did on the floor. Alongside giants like Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King Jr., he expressed his support for a more united and grateful society.

The fact that so many voices, both in the NBA and outside, speak in honor of Russell proves how much of an impact he had on the world and on everyone who came through his life.

Kevin E. Boling