Manute Bol, who became a basketball sensation in the 1980s as a skeletally thin shot-blocking giant with the Washington Bullets and other professional teams, and who devoted his post-basketball life to improving the lot of his fellow natives of Sudan, died June 19 at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville. He was 47.
His cousin George Bol said Mr. Bol had internal bleeding and other complications from Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, a rare skin disease that he contracted from a medication he received in Africa.
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.
By Washington Post Editors | June 19, 2010; 2:57 PM ET
Bol was also a frequent visitor to refugee camps in his native Sudan, giving very generously to humanitarian causes related to that war-torn country throughout, and after, his career. He established the Ring True Foundation, whose mission is to deliver relief to Christians living in Sudan. He's done his part to get the word out about the egregious slavery and human rights violations there, and even willingly participated in publicity stunts (celebrity boxing, signing a one-day contract with a minor league hockey team, and serving as a horse jockey) all to raise money for the cause.
Bol may have been a below-average basketball player (apart from his phenomenal shot-blocking skills), but I think it's fair to say that the world just lost a great human being.
"Say, the next time you want to win your daughter back, you could just try giving her a pony, the apocalypse doesn’t really cut it!" --The Prince, Prince of Persia (2008)
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Originally posted by ekedolphinBol may have been a below-average basketball player (apart from his phenomenal shot-blocking skills), but I think it's fair to say that the world just lost a great human being.
I'll second that. It feels like the humanitarian efforts of athletes such as him, Dikembe Mutombo, et al. don't get enough attention, but there might not be such a thing as "enough". Here's hoping more athletes follow his example.
(edited by drjayphd on 20.6.10 1554)
You wanted the best, you got... the Out of Context Quote of the Week.
"...you are not a Meat Loaf mark; you're a member of the Meat Loaf Universe. (CRZ)
I met him when I was like 3 years old while he was in Washington, DC. It's one of my earliest memories; as you can imagine it'd be pretty hard for a little toddler to forget a man like THAT! This is just incredibly sad to me, and I agree he doesn't get the credit and attention he deserves for his charitable work.
I heard it from Bill Plaschke on Around the Horn but, since I never believe anything Plaschke says, I had to look it up for myself. Sure enough, it seems language experts believe the phrase came from Manute who, due to not fully understanding the English language, would say "my bad" instead of "my fault" whenever he made a bad pass on the court. Incredible!