What is left is a man who tends to bird feeders outside his garden-level window, gentled by hardship, who, despite strokes and loss, keeps a champion's bearing.
Russell sorts through his pictures, looking at the fearsome, powerful man he once was. Beaded with sweat at a match at Minneapolis's First Avenue alongside teammate Eddie Fritz. Airborne above the top turnbuckle. Standing before 60,000 fans at the Louisiana Superdome—a crowd so deafening, Russell says, he couldn't hear himself shout.
It would be easy to pity himself, or to resent the man captured in those clippings. But Russell doesn't. He's awash in joy, smiling.
"That's life," he says. "It's what life dealt for me. I could be dead right now." He turns a page. In the picture before him, he is posed against a white sheet, flexing his fists. Russell smiles and points at the picture. "I had the time of my life," he says. "I can say I'm the luckiest man."