Manute Bol was a big man—both on the basketball court and off it. Somehow, at 7’7”, he was larger than life.
After retiring from the NBA in 1994, Bol became even more active in his native Sudan. As U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback said in remembrance of Bol on the Senate floor, Bol’s Christian faith “guided his advocacy.”
Bol, who died Saturday of kidney failure, is being remembered as much for his stature and his NBA legacy—he was the only player to average more blocks (3.3 per game) than points (2.6 per game)—as he is for his life off the court. He was, as John Zogby, the president and CEO of Zogby International, said, “The Real NBA Hero.”
From Zogby’s HuffPo piece:
He was so much more than an NBA legend. He was living proof that none of us could ever claim that we had a bad day. Manute had seen so much more than any of us and he triumphed. He said he was going to build reconciliation schools in southern Sudan. This from a man who lost 250 members of his own family from religious violence. He put together schools taught by Christians and Muslims for children who were Christian and Muslim. They would learn and study under the shade of trees, using sticks and rocks to write. Manute moved forward to build the first school with the help of volunteers from all faiths. The builders learned to make bricks in a town that had a shortage of water and no electricity, no infrastructure and no contact with the outside world.
This commitment to serving others, Zogby writes, made Bol “the richest man ever to have played in the NBA.”