Bell graduated from Wenonah High School in 1973 and completed his bachelor of science in health and physical education at Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee in 1977. During the 1980s, Bell lived in New York City and in Stratford, Connecticut, where he worked at a tank engine factory. He returned to Birmingham and was hired to coach basketball at Jones Valley Middle School in 1993. After three years and a 48-9 record he succeeded Eleanor Pitts at his alma mater.
During his 22-year career as head coach, the Dragons went 529-194 with only three losing seasons. He won a Class 6A championship in 2004. From 2014 to 2017 Wenonah was the Class 5A state champion each year, and book-ended the streak by finishing as runner up in 2013 and 2018. Bell received the Frank House Award from the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.
- Beaudry, Paul (2002) "Emanuel Bell: 17-year Wenonah veteran meant for coaching." AHSAA 2013 Final 48 Basketball Championships tournament program
- Crenshaw, Solomon Jr (January 18, 2018) "Battling Cancer, Emanuel Bell wins 500th as coach of Wenonah Girls Basketball." The Birmingham Times
- "AHSAA Saddened by the Death of Wenonah Coach Emanuel Bell" (January 31, 2019) Alabama High School Athletic Association
- Victory, Dennis (February 1, 2019) "Emanuel Bell coached basketball, taught life-lessons, leaves behind legacy of affected lives." The Birmingham News