Sunday, June 20, 2010

Humanitarian Dinka Dunker

Manute Bol, humanitarian and basketball player, died far too young.

From the Washington Post...
Mr. Bol, one of the two tallest players in NBA history, was also one of its most exotic and endearing -- and surely the only one to have killed a lion with a spear. His unusual journey to basketball stardom began in southern Sudan, where he was a cattle-herding member of the Dinka tribe and never touched a basketball until his late teens. After catching the eye of an American coach working in Sudan, Mr. Bol made his way to the United States without knowing a word of English.

When the Bullets drafted him in the second round in 1985, he was measured at 7 feet 6¾ inches in his bare feet -- usually rounded up to 7-7 -- and he weighed a mere 190 pounds. Mr. Bol had limited basketball skills but proved to be unusually adept at one aspect of the game: blocking opponents' shots.

The Bullets put Mr. Bol on a regimen of weightlifting and pizza, adding 17 pounds to his frame before he made his NBA debut in October 1985. In his rookie season, despite playing about 25 minutes a game, he led the league with 397 blocked shots, still the second-highest total in NBA annals.

From HuffPo...
Few who didn't keep up with Bol's activities after his NBA career are aware of his consistent efforts to improve conditions for those in his homeland of Sudan. In fact, Bol spent nearly his entire fortune, and went bankrupt, donating money to organizations that were working in Darfur.

Bol had never heard of America or the game of basketball until he was 18. Overwhelmed by an amount of wealth unheard of where he came from, Bol dedicated his life to charitable endeavors in Sudan. With Alliance for the Lost Boys, Bol worked to bring medical assistance and education to Sudan. Just last year, Bol was busy raising money to build a school when he contracted Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, a skin disease that would ultimately take his life.

Rest in peace Manute, we all can learn a lot from your life.

To make a contribution to Sudan Sunrise, the nonprofit that Manute founded to achieve reconciliation between Sudanese Christians and Muslims and end the oppression in Sudan, click here.

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