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Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell has issued a statement apologizing for the Wednesday incident at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, in which he was arrested for carrying a handgun through airport security.
As previously reported, the former NBA great had a permit for the gun and was later released. A Transportation Security Administration spokesperson said that Russell was carrying a .38-caliber pistol and it was loaded.
On Sunday, Russell, who has lived in Seattle for decades, released a statement to Boston.com.
“Before boarding my flight from Seattle to Boston, I had accidentally left a legal firearm in my bag. I apologize and truly regret the mistake,” Russell, 79, said. “I was issued a citation by the TSA, whose agents couldn’t have been more thorough and professional when dealing with this. I really appreciate their efforts to keep air travel safe.”
Airport spokesman Perry Cooper told USA Today that Russell “handled himself fine.” Cooper added, “Usually what occurs in these situations is that the subject says that they didn't realize it was in the bag. Typically that's what happens when you have these discovered at a checkpoint.”
Russell is one of the most decorated athletes in NBA history, playing for the Celtics from 1956 to 1968 and helping the team win 11 NBA Championships during that span. He also coached the Seattle SuperSonics in the 1970s. On Nov. 1, there will be a ceremony to unveil a statue of him at Boston’s City Hall Plaza.
image: Wikimedia Commons