NBA icon Bill Russell has passed away at the age of 88, survived by his fourth wife Jeannine.
News broke on July 31, 2022, that Bill Russell had passed away as a statement was published on Russell’s official social media accounts. A cause of death was not released.
“Bill Russell, the most prolific winner in American sports history, passed away peacefully today at age 88, with his wife, Jeannine, by his side,” the statement reads. It also announced that memorial services are to be organised in due course.
The Focus takes a look at Bill Russell’s relationship with fourth wife Jeannine, as well as exploring their sizeable age difference.
Bill Russell celebrates wife Jeannine’s birthday
Jeannine Russell, who previously went by Jeannine Fiorito and Jeannine Maddux, is best known as the wife of late NBA star Bill Russell.
A number of reports have alleged that Jeannine Russell is born on January 31, 1967. This is corroborated by a birthday post Bill Russell made on Twitter celebrating Jeannine’s birthday on January 31, 2019. He celebrated the fact that Jeannine also shared a birthday with his “best friend”, and baseball icon, Jackie Robinson.
This would make her 55 years old as of the publication date. As only her birthday is verified by Bill Russell, it cannot be stated that this is her exact age.
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Bill and Jeannine Russell’s age difference explored
If we are to take Jeannine Russell’s age to be 55 years old, it would mean the couple has an age difference of 33 years.
Bill Russell was born on February 12, 1934. He was 88 years old at the time of his death.
Although the late NBA star did not disclose his wife’s age, he has commented on their age difference in the past. After watching Hope & Fury: MLK, The Movement and The Media, Bill Russell tweeted about the couple’s age difference: “I have for years told my wife we are not far from what was going on 50 yrs ago. This is a must see for everyone, we do not want to repeat our past. To my wife this is history, for me this is my life.”
About Bill Russell’s marriages
According to a CNN profile, Bill and Jeannine Russell (née Fiorito) married in 2016. The pair were married until his death in July 2022.
Before Jeannine, Bill Russell was married three times. He was first married to Rose Swisher from 1956 to 1973. Bill was then married to Dorothy “Didi” Anstett from 1977 to 1980. His first two marriages ended in divorce. Bill Russell’s third marriage to Marilyn Nault tragically ended when she passed away in January 2009. The couple had married over a decade earlier in 1996.
Bill Russell has three children from his first marriage to Rose Swisher: Karen, William Jr. “Buddha” and Jacob.
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Tributes to late Bill Russell flood the internet
As news of Bill Russell’s passing circulates, tributes to the late NBA star have dominated social media.
Bill Simmons tweeted in response to Bill Russell’s death: “One of the most important athletes who ever lived. And one of the greatest. RIP.”
Vice President Kamala Harris paid homage to the late athlete: “Bill Russell was one of the greatest athletes in our history, and the first Black coach in a major U.S. sports league. Off the court, he used his voice to advance civil rights and social justice. We are a better nation because of him.”