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Bill Russell Biography

Updated On 02 May, 2023 Published On 20 Nov, 2019
Bill Russell

Facts of Bill Russell

Date of Birth :
Age : 90 years old
Family Name : Russell
Birth Country : United States
Birth Sign : Aquarius
Height : 6 Feet 9 Inch

Relationship short Statistics of Bill Russell

What is Bill Russell marital status ? ( married,single, in relation or divorce): Married
How many children does Bill Russell have ? (name): 3 Children
Is Bill Russell having any relationship affair ?: No
Is Bill Russell Gay ? No

Like many people around the world, if you are also a basketball fan fanatic, then you will have surely heard about Bill Russell. This legendary player who played as the center for the Boston Celtics is a record eleven-time NBA champion and regarded as one of the greatest players in the game's history. Be it winning NBA title, NCAA Championship, Olympic Gold medal, MVP, NBA All-Stars; you name it, he has done it all. His professional and personal life both have been inspirational for many great players after him and continues to be even today.

Bill Russell's Personal Life 

The legendary basketball player is in matrimony with his beautiful wife, Jeannine Russell. Bill wed his sweetheart just in July 2019. 

Bill Russell is in matrimony with his current wife Jeannine Russell. SOURCE: Bill Russell's Instagram (realbillrussell)

The retired athlete lives content and peaceful life with his partner in Mercer Island, Washington. He often shares pictures with his spouse on his social media. 

Even though he is living quiet days with his companion, Jeannine is not the first spouse of Bill. The legendary player was hitched several times in the past.

Bill Russell & Wife Jeannine Renews Their Vows

Russell shared an adorable post to celebrate his marital anniversary with his beloved wife on Instagram. On the first anniversary, Bill and Jeannine renewed their marital vows in a private ceremony.

Bill Russell and his wife Jeannine Russell renew their marital vows. SOURCE: Instagram (realbillrussell)

The NBA star can be seen in a pink shirt & grey brazer looking down on his wife who looks beautiful in a white dress and tiara. Jeannine can be also seen flaunting the wedding ring on her finger.

To add more sweetness, Russell captioned the post with the comment that read, "Happy 1 year vow renewal #Anniversary to my wonderful wife. We realized today we were married on the 8th, and renewed our vows on the 24th. The #Kobe connection goes deep. "

Needless to say, Jeannine is the one for Bill and vice versa. By the looks of love in their eyes, Mr. and Mrs. Russell will spent the rest of their life together with love and romance only.

Married Three Times Already in the Past 

Bill first tied the knot with his college sweetheart Rose Swisher in 1956. The couple even shares three children; two sons, William Jr. Russell and Jacon Russell and a daughter Russell Karen Russel. Their daughter Karen is a television pundit and a lawyer. Russell and Swisher lived together for 17 years before calling it quits in 1973.

Bill Russell and his first wife Rose Swisher's wedding day. SOURCE: Getty Images

Four years later, the athlete walked down the aisle with Dorothy Anstett, who was the 1968 Miss USA. The duo's marriage was mainly surrounded by controversy mostly because his former wife was white.

Bill Russell and his second wife Dorothy Anstett. SOURCE: Pinterest

At that time, there was a wide prevalence of racial discrimination, and the legalization of interracial marriage was not yet introduced in the US. Nevertheless, the couple lived together for three years before getting a divorce in 1980. 

After that, the basketball player remained single for a long time, 16 years to be exact, when he met Marylin Nault, a jewelry salesperson. The couple exchanged wedding vows on February 17, 1996. 

Bill Russell with his late wife Marilyn Nault. SOURCE: Flickr

Russell's third marriage was comparatively better than his previous one as there were no major disputes, and both of them lived a peaceful and happy life until his partner's death on January 21, 2009.

Accepting Basketball Hall of Fame After 44 Years 

44 years since he refused to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975, the Boston Celtics legend finally accepted his Basketball Hall of Fame ring.

Bill Russell with his partner and friends. SOURCE: Bill Russell's Instagram (realbillrussell)

Bill shared a post along with photos on his Twitter account, which showed him being presented with his Hall of Fame ring in a private ceremony with his wife and close friends, former basketball players Bill Walton and Anne Meyers. Along with the post,

Bill wrote:

"In a private ceremony w/my wife & close friends A.Mourning @AnnMeyers @billwalton & others I accepted my #HOF ring. In ‘75 I refused being the 1st black player to go into the @Hoophall I felt others before me should have that honor. Good to see progress; ChuckCooperHOF19 @NBA"

Well, congratulations to the champ!

Suffered Racial Abuse His Entire Life 

Bill Russell grew during that time when racial discrimination was prevalent all over the United States. The black people living in the US suffered a great deal of abuse and discrimination, and it was no different for Russell's family.

Once the 11 time NBA champion's father was once refused service at a gas station until the employees had first taken care of all the white customers first. When his father Russel tried to leave the place, one of the attendants put a shotgun in his face and threatened to kill him if he did not stay and wait for his turn.

In another incident, his mother was walking in an elegant outfit when a white policeman approached her and told her to go home and remove the dress because it was a white woman's dress. 

Young Bill Russell during his Boston Celtics days. SOURCE: Sportskeeda

The discrimination did not stop even when the 2.06 meters tall man became a star player. In 1958 offseason, the NBA All-Stars toured the U.S., the white hotel owners in segregated North Carolina refused rooms to him and his black teammates.

In 1961, Russel and his black teammates were refused service at a local restaurant in Lexington, Kentucky. In response, he and his black teammates who were there for an exhibition match refused to play in the exhibition game and flew home almost immediately.

It is still hard to believe that after all these years of development, advancement, and education, racial abuse and discrimination still exist in the US and other parts of the world. Everyone needs to realize that God created everyone equal, and there should be no such things as judging an individual based on skin color, ethnic, or racial background.

Net Worth and Career Earnings From Basketball

Bill holds a net worth of $10 million, as of 2019. His wealth is all thanks to his successful career as a basketball. On average, an NBA player can earn a whopping $7.7 million annually.

In 1956 which was his rookie year, he was already one of the highest earners in NBA racking in $24,000 just a thousand dollars behind top earner Bob Cousy, who made $25,000.

Check out the clip of Bill Russell playing for Boston Celtics!

Almost a decade later, Wilt Chamberlain became the first NBA player to receive a $100,000 salary in 1965, Russell demanded his Boston Celtics' coach Red Auerbach a $100,001 payroll which he received promptly.

The Basketball Hall of Famer assuredly made a big fortune from his successful career.


Aside from basketball, the talented man is also an author and has several books under his belt. He has written as a joint project with a professional writer.

Some of his books are Red and Me: My Coach, My Lifelong Friend (Price= $4.69), Russell Rules: 11 Lessons on Leadership from the 20th Century's Greatest Winner (Price= $6.49), Second Wind: The Memoirs of an Opinionated Man (Price= $8.99), Decorative Furniture Finishes With Vinegar Paint (Price= $3.99), Field Guide to the Wild Mushrooms of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic (Price= $22.48), etc.

Quick Facts: Bill Russell

  • Bill Russell was born to Charles Russell and Katie Russell in West Monroe, Louisiana. 
  • He had an older brother, Charlie Louis Russell, who was a writer.
  • Bill was drafted in the NBA in 1956.
  • He was notorious for refusing to give autographs to fans.
  • The ex-Sacramento Kings player was the first black player to achieve superstar status in the NBA.
  • Russel also became the first black head coach in NBA history when he agreed to become the head coach of the Boston Celtics on April 16, 1966.
  • He is the only player to have won 11 NBA Championships in his career. 
  • Russell was the NBA's Most Valuable Player five times.
  • He was selected NBA All-Star for 12 times from 1958-1969.
  • The former Boston Celtics center won an Olympic gold medal in 1956.
  • In 1986, he played Judge Roger Ferguson in an episode of crime drama television series "Miami Vice."
  • In 2013, Bill was honored by erecting a statue of him on City Hall Plaza by Boston.
  • In his honor, the NBA Finals MVP Awards has renamed the Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP Award in 2009.
  • In 2009, Russell attended the final game to present the newly christened namesake award to its winner, Kobe Bryant

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Bill Russell Married

Fourth Marriage with Jeannine Russell

Bill Russell is married to his wife Jeannine Russell. Bill and Jeannine walked down the aisle on July 2019.

Third Marriage with Marylin Nault

Bill Russell was in matrimony with Marylin Nault. His late wife Marylin was a jewelry saleswoman with whom he was married for 16 years.

Second Marriage with Dorothy Catherine Anstett

The legendary basketball player's second wife was Dorothy Anstett. His ex-spouse was the Miss USA of 1968 with whom he lived for three years.

First Marriage with Rose Swisher

Former Celtics Boston center Bill Russell's first tied the knot with Rose Swisher. The duo were high school lovers.

Bill Russell Children

DAUGHTER : Karen Russell

Mother: Rose Swisher

Karen Russell is the only daughter of basketball legend Bill Russell and Rose Swisher.

SON : William Jr. Russell

Mother: Rose Swisher

Along with his first wife, Rose Swisher, legendary basketball player Bill Russell gave birth to three children one of them is William Jr. Russell.

SON : Jacob Russell

Mother: Rose Swisher

11 times NBA Champion, Bill Russell and his first wife, Rose Swisher's third child is Jacob Russell.

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