Bill Russell’s unprecedented accomplishments on the basketball court only are outdone by his efforts off of it.

This notion will be recognized during Wednesday night’s ESPY Awards when Russell receives the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage. Prior to his big night, Russell, an 11-time NBA champion and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, published a thoughtful column for The Boston Globe on the importance of mentoring children.

Here’s an excerpt from Russell’s piece:

For the more than 9 million children in this country growing up without a supportive adult relationship outside of their immediate family, it’s up to each of us to turn toward them and build a bridge.

In these moments of division and uncertainty, take heart: We agree on more than we realize. We are more alike than we are different. The social contract is still being honored in deeply meaningful and personal ways. Relationships can build and sustain social movements. In fact, they always have.

There has never been a more important time to remind ourselves that, in America, there is no such thing as other people’s children.

You can read Russell’s full editorial here >>

Thumbnail photo via Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports Images