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CelticsLife salutes the greatest champion in sports - Mr. Bill Russell - who turns 79 today.  Russell was the centerpiece of the Celtics dynasty of the late '50s and '60s who anchored the team with his trademark shot-blocking ability and unparalleled commitment to defense.  With these skills, Russell helped lead the franchise to 11 NBA championships during his 13-year career - including two at the tail-end of his stellar career as a pioneering African-American player-coach.

Prior to his career with the C's, he also won back-to-back NCAA titles with the San Francisco Dons in 1955 and 1956 and an Olympic Gold in Melbourne (1956).

Russell receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from  President Obama
In 2011, Russell was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom - the highest civilian honor given in the United States - for his accomplishments in breaking racial barriers on and off the court.  Apart from being among the first African-American stars (and the first African-American head coach) in professional sports, Russell was a prominent catalyst in the Civil Rights Movement.
Most recently, Russell unwittingly returned to the national spotlight when - while attending the Presidential inauguration ceremonies last month - he was mistaken by ABC news presenter George Stephanopoulos to be actor Morgan Freeman.  As distinguished and decorated Russell's career and life have been, I guess Stephanopoulos confused him with having won an Oscar or two as well.

Happy Birthday Mr. Russell!


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E K 2/12/2013 02:40:00 PM Edit
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