Russell received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2011. 

By Michael Shapiro
May 30, 2019

Celtics Hall of Fame center Bill Russell announced on Thursday that he will be receiving the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2019 ESPYs. 

Russell has fought for civil rights and battled discrimination since entering the NBA in 1956. He participated in the March on Washington in 1963 and became the first black coach in NBA history in 1966. Russell tweeted his support for Colin Kaepernick's Know Your Rights Camp in February. 

President Obama awarded Russell the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. 

2019 will mark the 27th annual Arthur Ashe Award. NC State coach Jimmy Valvano won the inaugural honor in 1993 and announced the creation of the V Foundation for Cancer Research in his speech. The 2018 honor went to sexual assault survivors who spoke out against former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.

Russell will be the first former NBA player to win the award as well as the first Boston athlete.

The 2019 ESPYs broadcast is slated for Wednesday, July 10 at 8 p.m. ET.

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