In his foreword, Russell states that his fight in life was to be respected, not to be liked. He believed that it was right to fight, because everyone must do that which he or she believes is right. While growing up in the South, as an African American, he merely existed, but in California he realized that there was a double standard among the races. Through repetition, he writes, African Americans learn that they are inferior nonpersons. Therefore, they lose respect for themselves and for society.
While growing up, Russell admired and was influenced by his father, Charlie Russell, who gave up his trucking business to keep his family together in Oakland, California, after his mother died. Among the few white teachers whom Russell respected was George Powell, who also was his junior varsity coach. Instead of degrading and humiliating his students and players, Powell encouraged them. Russell was not a good basketball player, but Powell gave him money to join the Boys Club and to play in the pickup scrimmages. This generosity, he writes, perhaps saved him from becoming a juvenile delinquent.
By his senior year in high school, Russell learned to play basketball well enough to win a scholarship to the University of San Francisco. While the pressure to cheat existed, Russell avoided the temptation. He stresses, however, that he was attending the university to play basketball. He did not graduate, but he was twice the star of a national championship team and was signed by the Celtics in 1956.
Russell learned to respect Walter Brown, the owner of the Celtics and founder of the NBA, because Brown had moral courage. From the beginning, the Celtics were in financial trouble, and...
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