Bill Russell was arrested last week for allegedly bringing a loaded gun to the Seattle–Tacoma International Airport. The 79-year-old NBA legend was caught after he entered an area of the airport where weapons are strictly prohibited, reports the USA Today on Oct. 19.
On Wednesday, Russell brought a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun into a secured area of the airport. He was arrested and his gun was removed, said Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Lisette Garcia.
Russell did not have the firearm holstered on his person, as some media outlets said. Rather, the weapon was in his carry-on bag that Russell sent through TSA’s screener.
"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," a TSA statement said.
Airport spokesman Perry Cooper said Russell had a permit, and was cooperative, but did not declare the weapon.
"He handled himself fine," Cooper said. "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 was issued a state citation and could be fined up to $7,500.
The 6-foot-9 Russell became the NBA's first African-American head coach after a successful career that included 11 championships in his 13 years in the league. Russell retired in 1969. He was inducted into basketball’s Hall of Fame in 1975.