I am a little surprised that people didn’t know about this.
Russell has been married four times. His first wife, Rose Swisher, was black, but the next three have been white.
His current wife is Jeannine Russell.
Here are the details on his other wives.
Russell was married to his college sweetheart Rose Swisher from 1956 to 1973. They had three children: daughter Karen Russell, the television pundit and lawyer, and sons William Jr. and Jacob. However, the couple grew emotionally distant and divorced. In 1977, he married Dorothy Anstett, Miss USA of 1968, but they divorced in 1980. The relationship was shrouded in controversy because Anstett was white. In 1996, Russell married his third wife, Marilyn Nault; their marriage lasted until her death in January 2009. Russell is married to Jeannine Russell. He has been a resident of Mercer Island, Washington for over four decades. His older brother was the noted playwright Charlie L. Russell.
When Russell showed off a photo of his current wife for Thanksgiving, the internet went nuts.
It is social media, so you sort of expect these types of things.
The main complaint is that Russell had to endure a ton of racism and still ended up with white women as his wives.
Russell’s life was marked by an uphill battle against racism and controversial actions and statements in response to perceived racism. As a child he witnessed how his parents were victims of racial abuse, and the family eventually moved into government housing projects to escape the daily torrent of bigotry. When he later became a standout college player at USF, Russell recalled how he and his few fellow black teammates were jeered by white students. Even after he became a star with the Boston Celtics, Russell was the victim of racial abuse. When the NBA All-Stars toured the U.S. in the 1958 offseason, white hotel owners in segregated North Carolina denied rooms to Russell and his black teammates, causing him to later write in his memoir Go Up for Glory, “It stood out, a wall which understanding cannot penetrate. You are a Negro. You are less. It covered every area. A living, smarting, hurting, smelling, greasy substance which covered you. A morass to fight from.” Before the 1961–62 season, Russell’s team was scheduled to play in an exhibition game in Lexington, Kentucky, when Russell and his black teammates were refused service at a local restaurant. He and the other black teammates refused to play in the exhibition game and flew home, drawing a great deal of controversy and publicity.
As a consequence, Russell was extremely sensitive to all racial prejudice: according to Taylor, he often perceived insults even if others did not. He was active in the Black Power movement and supported Muhammad Ali’s decision to refuse to be drafted. He was often called “Felton X”, presumably in the tradition of the Nation of Islam’s practice of replacing a European slave name with an “X”, and even purchased land in Liberia. Russell’s public statements became increasingly militant, and he was quoted in a 1963 Sports Illustrated interview with the words: “I dislike most white people because they are people … I like most blacks because I am black”; however, Russell articulated these views with a measure of self-criticism: “I consider this a deficiency in myself—maybe. If I looked at it objectively, detached myself, it would be a deficiency.” However, when his white Celtics teammate Frank Ramsey asked whether he hated him, Russell claimed to have been misquoted, but few believed it.
As a result of repeated racial bigotry, Russell refused to respond to fan acclaim or friendship from his neighbors, thinking it was insincere and hypocritical. This attitude contributed to his legendarily bad rapport with fans and journalists. He alienated Celtics fans by saying, “You owe the public the same it owes you, nothing! I refuse to smile and be nice to the kiddies.” This supported the opinion of many white fans that Russell (who was by then the highest-paid Celtic) was egotistical, paranoid and hypocritical. The already hostile atmosphere between Russell and Boston hit its apex when vandals broke into his house, covered the walls with racist graffiti, damaged his trophies and defecated in the beds. In response, Russell described Boston as a “flea market of racism”. In King Of The Court by Aram Goudsouzian, he was quoted saying, “From my very first year I thought of myself as playing for the Celtics, not for Boston. The fans could do or think whatever they wanted.” Referring to a time when the Celtics did not frequently sell out the Boston Garden (while the generally mediocre and all-white NHL Boston Bruins did), Russell recalled “We [the Celtics] did a survey about what we could do to improve attendance. Over 50 percent of responses said ‘There’s too many black players.'” In retirement, Russell described the Boston press as corrupt and racist; in response, Boston sports journalist Larry Claflin claimed that Russell himself was the real racist. The FBI maintained a file on Russell, and described him in their file as “an arrogant Negro who won’t sign autographs for white children.”
Russell has been married to white women since 1977, so it is crazy social media is just noticing today.
This is the world we live in now.
Flip the pages for the craziest Twitter reactions you have ever seen to a photo.