Net worth: When Bill Russell died in 2022, he had an estimated net worth of $10 million.
Bill Russell was a retired basketball player and is one of the most decorated American professional athletes in history. He played center for the Boston Celtics from 1956 to 1969, winning 11 championships in 13 seasons, solidifying Boston as a dynasty. Russell is tied with National Hockey League player Henri Richard for the most championships won by an athlete in North American sports history. The defensive-minded, shot-blocking center helped the University of San Francisco Dons to back-to-back NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956.
Russell passed away at the age of 88 on July 31, 2022.
During his decorated career, Russell earned five MVPs and was named to 12 NBA All-Star teams. Yet, at the peak of his career, Russell did not peak over half a million dollars in salary per season, averaging $100,000 a year. While the salary is low, it’s strikingly low when averaged to today’s dollars — Russell would be earning around $600,000 a year. While the best professional athletes vie for seven-figure deals today, back in the 1950s, these deals were unheard of. In 1965, Russell became the first NBA athlete to crack six figures, demanding his salary be raised to $100,001.
Russell’s memorabilia brought in a large sum
In December 2021, Hunt Auctions worked with the Russell family to list over 400 lots of memorabilia from his storied career, including MVP awards, NBA Finals jerseys, championship rings, and his 1956 Olympic gold medal. The auction was held at TD Garden, home of the Boston Celtics and this is a breakdown of how some of the big ticket items fared:
Russell’s game-worn jersey from his final game: $1.1 million
- First championship ring: $705,000
- Last championship ring: $558,125
- Olympic gold medal: $587,500
- Five MVP awards: $1.3 million cumulatively
Some of the proceeds from the auction benefited Russell’s organizations including MENTOR and Boston Celtics United for Social Justice.
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