SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) - Activist, teacher, radio host, media fixture.
Cliff Russell wore a lot of hats and touched a lot of lives during his long career in Detroit. He worked everywhere from City Hall to the University of Detroit Mercy.
Russell died Sunday of a heart attack at the age of 61. The man worked in every facet of the business from radio to TV to public relations and radio.
Cliff Russell did it all from award-winning journalist to press secretary for Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer
"I found him to be a very outstanding press secretary who was able to help me and print and electronic media," Archer said.
After his press secretary role, Russell became director of communications for the Detroit Tigers, the first African-American to hold both those positions. In college he was a player for Wayne State basketball to now as the voice of the U-D Mercy Titans. A professor, mentor, historian - a husband, father and grandfather and brother.
"The last words he said to me was ‘I love you brother and I look forward to talking to you and seeing you next week’," Greg Russell said.
Actor and media personality Greg Russell was so proud to call Cliff his sibling.
"I enjoyed sharing my brother with everybody in the Detroit community because everybody knew him," he said. "I even loved seeing him on Let It Rip because it just made me feel so proud because it was like, yes, Cliff knows the pulse of this city."
"Cliff was amazing, he was Detroit," said Gary Lichtman, U-D Mercy.
Most recently the voice of the Titans with the University of Detroit Mercy and radio host at 910 AM, Russell shared his wisdom and enthusiasm with kids and coaches alike.
"He was one of the most phenomenal men and characters I've ever met in my life - I'll promise you that," said student Dominic Turcott.
"Even if we were playing bad he was going to be cheering us on - he meant a big part of this team," said Jaleel Hogan, Titans basketball player.
"He always made people feel good about themselves and he was just a great guy to speak to," said Women’s Basketball Coach Bernard Scott. "It's a big loss
Russell, 61, was on the road in Chicago Sunday with the Titans for Monday night's game against the University of Illinois Chicago Flames when he suffered a heart attack.
At U-D Mercy the team will remember his last words as they take the court.
"One of his last words, he talked to the team (he said) 'Let's go get it against UIC," said Robert Vowels, U-D Mercy athletic director. "That's what Cliff was."