NBA great Bill Russell shows support for Stephon Clark on Twitter

Ryan Young
Yahoo Sports Contributor
Bill Russell, center, tweeted out a photo of him kneeling in support for Stephon Clark, a Sacramento resident who was shot and killed by police earlier this month while holding a cellphone in his grandmother’s back yard. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Boston Celtics great Bill Russell tweeted out a picture of himself dropped to one knee with his Presidential Medal of Freedom around his neck back in September, showing his support for both Colin Kaepernick and NFL players across the league who were taking a knee during the national anthem.

Months later, that same picture resurfaced.

Russell tweeted out the same photo on Thursday afternoon, this time in support for Stephon Clark and his family.

“I am so sorry for Stephon Clarks family & friends having to lay to rest their loved one,” Russell said on Twitter. “This is why we #TakeAKnee. Things have to change.”

Clark, a 22-year-old African American, was shot and killed by Sacramento police earlier this month while standing in his grandmother’s backyard with his cellphone. Clark’s funeral was held Thursday morning. Clark’s death has spurred numerous protests all over Sacramento, including two that shutdown the Golden 1 Center — the home of the Sacramento Kings — during games this past week.

Russell tweeted out the same photo again an hour later, adding the hashtags #TakeAKnee and #StephonClark.

He followed it up with a passage from one of his books, in which he described a tense encounter with a Los Angeles police officer who pulled him over.

This type of activism is nothing new for Russell, who has been very outspoken about racial issues in the United States. He was the first black coach in the NBA, participated in the March on Washington in 1963 and has repeatedly praised boxer Muhammad Ali’s activism.

Russell played in the NBA from 1956-1969, and is widely regarded as one of the best professional basketball players of all time. He won 11 NBA titles, is a five-time NBA MVP and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1975.

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