News / Africa

Dignitaries, Friends Say Farewell to NBA's Manute Bol

Manute Bol's casket lies at the Washington National Cathedral during funeral services for the late NBA star, 29 Jun 2010
Manute Bol's casket lies at the Washington National Cathedral during funeral services for the late NBA star, 29 Jun 2010

A funeral was held on Tuesday for former National Basketball Association star Manute Bol at Washington's National Cathedral.  The towering shot blocker from southern Sudan was remembered more for his off-the-court humanitarianism than for his on-the court play.

In death as in life, Manute Bol towered above others.  His specially made 2.44-meter-long casket was covered in a white pall emblazoned with red crosses as it was wheeled into the massive gothic cathedral.

Bol died on June 19 at age 47 from kidney failure brought on by a skin condition attributed to medical care he received while traveling in his native Sudan.

Bol joined the Washington Bullets, now called the Wizards, in 1985.  By the time he retired 10 seasons later, Bol had amassed 2,086 blocked shots and 1,599 points - the only NBA player with more blocks than points scored.

Rory Sparrow, the NBA's vice president of Player Development, told mourners that not even Michael Jordan was able to intimidate the smiling Dinka tribesman.

Rory Sparrow, NBA VP of Player Development speaks at Manute Bol's funeral at the Washington National Cathedral, 29 Jun10
Rory Sparrow, NBA VP of Player Development speaks at Manute Bol's funeral at the Washington National Cathedral, 29 Jun10

"I remember one time when we were teasing him at one game.  I was playing for the [Chicago] Bulls and I was teasing him about what Michael Jordan was going to do to him," he said.  "And he just laughed and he said, 'What Michael Jordan?  Why should I be afraid of Michael Jordan?  I kill lion.  He come in, I block his shot.'  And sure enough, he blocked his shot.  Michael made a couple of dunks, but hey, Manute stood his ground," said Sparrow.

Bol was later traded to Golden State.  He later played for Philadelphia and Miami before returning to Washington.  His highest NBA salary was $1.5 million per year.  While in Washington, he often protested at the Sudanese Embassy to draw attention to his home country's civil war.  When he returned to Sudan in 1998, Bol supported a large extended family.  He gave more than $3.5 million to a Dinka-led rebel group in Southern Sudan, and later lost his fortune, and was forced to sell his house and possessions.  A political dispute left him in virtual exile in his country.

By 2001, Bol was almost destitute.  He sometimes appeared in promotional stunts, such as a boxing match against former Chicago Bears defensive lineman William "Refrigerator" Perry to raise funds for his homeland.  He said at the time he did it to save people's lives, not for the money.

Bol was later admitted to the United States as a religious refugee where his rent in Connecticut was paid by a Catholic charity.  The former NBA star was nearly killed in a 2003 car accident.  But Bol's experiences led him to rededicate himself to helping others, particularly children and the dispossessed in Sudan. His goal was to build 41 schools across the country.

Alec Khoc, Southern Sudan's ambassador to the United States, pays tribute to late NBA star Manute Bol during funeral services at the Washington National Cathedral, 29 Jun 2010
Alec Khoc, Southern Sudan's ambassador to the United States, pays tribute to late NBA star Manute Bol during funeral services at the Washington National Cathedral, 29 Jun 2010

Akec Khoc, Sudan's ambassador to the United States, said Bol did not dwell on his setbacks.  Instead, he showed kindness to everyone.

"He gave his time to children, to the poor, to the displaced, to the helpless, to the sick everywhere," he said.

Manute Bol later moved from Connecticut to Kansas, where he lived in recent years.  Kansas Senator Sam Brownback said that the quiet, towering basketball star was not preoccupied with his own wealth, fame or misfortune.  He said Bol's concern was helping the poor and needy, and reconciling former enemies in his native country.

"I can't think of a person that I know of in the world that used their celebrity status for a greater good than what Manute Bol did.  He used it for his people, he gave his life for his people," said Brownback.

Manute Bol worked with Sudan Sunrise, which seeks to help bring about reconciliation between Christians, animists and Muslims in Southern Sudan.   

Sudan Sunrise founder, Reverend Canon Tom Prichard, says Bol's work to reconcile former enemies lives on.

"Manute's legacy and vision of education and reconciliation, his determination to grow grassroots reconciliation - whether that reconciliation is expressed in a country that divides or holds together, wherever the boundary lines are drawn.  Manute stood for grassroots reconciliation," said Prichard.

Manute Bol's family patriarch, Bol Bol Chol, praised his nephew's efforts to bring about reconciliation between Muslims and Christians in Sudan - including Darfurians, who, he said, killed as many as 250 of Bol's relatives.   

"This man is not an ordinary man.  I believe this man is a messenger like others messengers who were sent into this world - to do something in this world.  He has accomplished most of his mission, and so God took him and left the rest of the work to be done by others," said Chol.

Manute Bol's remains will be flown to Sudan where they will be interred near his grandfather in a family cemetery.

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid