On Wednesday, the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation and Bill Russell Legacy Committee announced plans to crate a statue in Boston of the legendary Celtics center. Here are some rare photos of Russell on and off the court: Russell poses for a photo in February 1955, a month before he would lead the University of San Francisco to the first of back-to-back championships.
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The 6-foot-9 center dunks the ball with ease, showing the athleticism that enabled him to dominate the game. He was extremely raw when he arrived at San Francisco, and while he worked on developing his offensive fundamentals, he relied on his dunking and defense to get by.
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While at the University of San Francisco, Russell also competed in track and field. Shown here in the high jump, Russell was attempting to clear 6-9 1/4. He tied for third at this meet in Los Angeles by clearing 6-6 1/4.
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K.C. Jones and Bill Russell
San Francisco teammate K.C. Jones wishes Russell good luck before the 1956 NCAA tournament semifinal game against Southern Methodist. Jones was one of the stars of the 1955 championship team, but he was ineligible in 1956. It didn't matter. Russell led the squad to a repeat championship as it went 29-0.
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Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell
Wilt Chamberlain shakes hands with Russell in 1959. The rivals battled repeatedly in the postseason, with Russell's team usually coming out on top.
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Russell joined Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown and Lew Alcindor (among others) in 1963 at a meeting of top African-American athletes to show support for Ali's refusal to fight in Vietnam.
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Elgin Baylor and Bill Russell
Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor dribbles up court against Russell in 1963. Russell defeated Baylor's Lakers for seven of his 11 NBA championships.
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Russell talks with the media in 1963 after speaking with an estimated 3,000 children who had boycotted Boston Public Schools that day to protest what parents said was actual -- if not legal -- segregation. Russell has worked toward racial equality during his life.
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Bill Russell and Red Auerbach
Russell holds a corsage as he and coach Red Auerbach celebrate the Celtics eighth straight title in 1966. The team defeated the Lakers 95-93 to win the crown.
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A trainer checks on the injured center during a game in 1967.
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Bill Russell, Red Auerbach and John Havlicek
The stress of the 1967-68 season wore on Russell, then serving as player-coach. The assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, a month before this photo was taken, is said to have weighed on Russell, too. But the Hall of Famer flashed a smile alongside longtime coach Red Auerbach and teammate John Havlicek after the Celtics beat the Lakers for the NBA title, ending a tumultuous year.
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Bill Russell, Red Auerbach and Jack Waldron
As team president Jack Waldron and coach/general manager Red Auerbach look on, Russell signs a three-year contract with the Celtics in 1965. He was coming off a season in which he had won his fifth MVP award and led the Celtics to their seventh straight championship.
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Celtics and Lakers
Russell leaps to block a shot from Glen Hawkins in the second game of the 1968 finals. After recovering from a three-games-to-one deficit against the 76ers in the Eastern Conference finals, the Celtics beat the Lakers in six games for Russell's 10th title in 12 seasons.
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Keith Jackson and Bill Russell
Russell teams with Keith Jackson to broadcast a Celtics game in 1972. The former center retired in 1969, after 13 seasons.
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Bill Russell and Julius Erving
Russell chats with Julius Erving before the 1983 All-Star game at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif. Dr. J won the game's MVP award after leading the East to a 132-123 win.
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Bill Russell and Larry Bird
Two of the all-time best NBA players talk with each other. The pair is a big reason Boston has more NBA championships than any other franchise.
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Russell speaks with reporters after being named head coach of the Sacramento Kings in 1987. He struggled in his third stint as coach -- after three successful seasons as Boston's player-coach and four mediocre years with Seattle. Russell lasted less than a season, compiling a 17-41 record.
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Bill Russell and Michael Jordan
The Celtics great poses with Jordan in 1998 as the Bulls star receives his fifth MVP award. Russell also won the award five times, including three straight, beginning in 1960-61.
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Russell shows off his golf stroke at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2001.
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Russell unveils a new Wheaties box featuring his picture during a ceremony in 2007.
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Clyde Drexler, Mel Davis, Bill Russell, David Stern, Kenny Smith and Bob Lanier
Commissioner David Stern and former players Clyde Drexler, Mel Davis, Russell, Kenny Smith and Bob Lanier pose in front of a statue of Chairman Mao in October 2004 in Shanghai.
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Richard Seymour, Tedy Bruschi, Bill Russell and Bobby Orr
Patriots stars Richard Seymour and Tedy Bruschi, Russell and former Bruins star Bobby Orr walk to the mound to toss the first pitch before the Red Sox home opener against the Yankees on April 11, 2005. After the Red Sox banished the Curse of the Bambino the previous fall, the team brought in some of Boston's biggest champions for the ceremony.
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Bill Russell, Ray Allen, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce
Russell with current Celtics Ray Allen, Coach Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce after they led Boston to a championship-clinching victory over the Lakers in the 2008 NBA finals. It was the 17th title in organization history.
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Kevin Garnett and Bill Russell
Kevin Garnett with the Celtics legend in March 2008.
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Barack Obama and Bill Russell
President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Russell in 2011. Obama said the 15 recipients of the award "reveal the best of who we are and who we aspire to be."
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