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Celtics Legend Bill Russell Arrested For Carrying Gun In Airport

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Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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SEATTLE, Wash. (CBS/AP) — Hall of Fame center Bill Russell was arrested this week at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport after Transportation Security Administration officials found a loaded gun in his luggage.

Russell was arrested Wednesday night as he attempted to go through security. Airport spokesman Perry Cooper confirmed Friday night that Russell was cited for having a weapon in a prohibited area. Russell’s gun was confiscated and he was released.

Russell’s gun was a .38-caliber pistol and was loaded with six rounds, according to a TSA spokesman. He was turned over to Port of Seattle police and there were no disruptions at the airport.

Russell had a permit for the gun and was released. His background check was clear, an airport spokesman told CBS affiliate KIRO late Friday night. He was taking a flight to Boston at the time.

He issued a statement on Saturday accepting responsibility for the incident. He apologized and praised the TSA.

“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,” he 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.”

The 79-year-old Russell has lived in the Seattle area for decades. He was an 11-time NBA champion with the Boston Celtics and coached the Seattle SuperSonics from 1973-77.

On November 1, the long awaited Bill Russell statue will be unveiled on City Hall Plaza. Russell won eleven NBA championships with the Celtics.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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