NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell found himself in a sticky situation last week while traveling through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport with a loaded gun in his carry-on luggage, according to media reports.
The 79-year-old former Boston Celtic was arrested Wednesday night after Transportation Security Administration (TSA) discovered the weapon-- a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun loaded with six rounds-- in a prohibited area. Russell was promptly arrested and issued a state citation.
“Firearms, ammunition, firearm parts and realistic replicas of firearms are always prohibited in carry-on baggage. However, these items can be transported in checked baggage provided the traveler declares them to the airline during the ticket counter check-in process,” TSA said in a statement.
TSA officials confiscated the gun and turned Russell over to Port of Seattle police, where he was later released with no disruptions at the airport. He could face up to a $7,500 fine.
On Saturday, the basketball legend issued the following statement:
"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. 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."
Over the span of his 13-year career, Russell won 11 championships. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1975.