With a booming voice and high-pitched chuckle, Bill Russell screamed. He frequently laughed at anything he said that made fun 

It was always a pleasure to hear Russell laugh after telling a story. Everyone around him was smiling and eager to hear

Russell passed away on Sunday at the age of 88. He was an influential voice on social and racial issues and an 11-time NBA champion.

President Barack Obama awarded me with the Medal of Freedom in 2011, and we spoke on the phone a few times.

If I needed Russell for something (and it better be for something important), I had a stronger chance of talking to him.

It was an honor for me, and not just a feast. You never cease to amaze the people you interview in this line of work.

It was distinct with Russell. Since I was a year old when he played his final NBA season, I never covered him as a player, coach, or executive.

Who is Russell and what does he stand for - a champion who puts his team first and has a brave social conscience -