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NBA legend Bill Russell arrested for trying to smuggle handgun onboard plane

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Obama joked about former Boston Celtics Captian Bill Russell’s height before hanging a medal around his neck. Russell was the first African American to coach in the NBA. 
( Medill DC )

NBA legend Bill Russell was arrested at a Seattle airport for trying to smuggle a handgun onboard an aircraft.

The news has been confirmed by Seattle TV station KIRO 7, which revealed that Russell was cited on Wednesday, October 16, at the Sea-Tac International Airport for carrying a gun into a prohibited area.

79-year old Russell holds the distinction of being an 11-time NBA champion and resides on Mercer Island, which is barely a mile from Seattle. Russell is an eminent figure in NBA history and has been named as one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players of all time. In 2011, Russell was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his efforts at the time of the civil rights movement.

Russell was detained after he was found carrying a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun which was discovered in his hand luggage at a security checkpoint during routine checking of carry-on baggage.

Perry Cooper, a spokesperson for Port of Seattle Police Department said that Russell was arrested and issued a state citation for the possession of a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun in a prohibited area.

Firearms are classified under prohibited items for carry-on baggage; however, per the Transport Security Administration (TSA), certain items can be transported in checked-in luggage, provided the traveler has declared it to the airline during check-in.

“Firearms, ammunition, firearm parts and realistic replicas of firearms are always prohibited in carry-on baggage,” per a statement from the TSA to KIRO 7. “However, these items can be transported in checked baggage provided the traveler declares them to the airline during the ticket counter check-in process.”

The TSA is authorized to levy a fine of $3,000 to $7,500, along with civil penalties, on the offender; however, each scenario is appraised on a “case by case” basis.

Russell, who spent a large part of his career as a center for the Celtics from 1956 to 1969, had a permit for the handgun and was released.

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