27 June 2010

A tribute to Manute Bol

I'm not a fan of professional basketball, but a column at Midwest Sports Fans caught my eye.  Manute Bol died last month; most of the items written about him seem to have focused entirely on his astounding height (7 feet 7 inches - the tallest man ever to play professional basketball) and the fact that he was the first African to play in the NBA.  Here are some excerpts from a column which focuses instead on the man's life after basketball:
For example, Bol started the Ring True Foundation in an effort to deliver aid to his poor countrymen. Most of the $3.5 million Bol made playing basketball went to support Ring True. Bol also used his celebrity and peoples’ curiosity with his size to make extra money after his playing career was over. There was the celebrity boxing match with The Fridge as well as the time he suited up for the Indianapolis Ice of the Central Hockey League. In both cases the money he made went back to the Sudan...

In recent years, Bol has remained active in delivering aid to the Sudan and in building awareness for the horrific living conditions faced by so many. He was involved in the Sudan Freedom Walk, an event aimed at bringing awareness to human rights violations in the Sudan...

Manute Bol has seemingly always fought with every bit of his strength to make the Sudan a better place for the people that he left behind – but certainly never forgot – when he moved to the United States. In fact, Bol never really left the Sudan behind. He clearly carried the burden of his nation’s plight during every step along his path to the NBA and, much like Dikembe Mutombo after him, used his God-given height to play a game that would pay him well and afford him the opportunity to make a difference on a continent that so desperately needs difference makers.
The 7-minute video embedded above is part 1 of three parts; the other two parts are at the link.

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