Manute Bol, who is best known for his NBA career and unusual
height, but who dedicated years of his life and much of his earnings to
humanitarian work in his native Sudan, died this weekend at the age of
47. The seven-foot, seven-inch Bol joined the Washington Bullets in 1985
and played until 1995, during which time he was known as one of the
NBA's most formidable shot blockers. With his death from kidney failure
and skin disease, contracted during relief work in Sudan, Bol's legacy
is becoming one of humanitarianism and bravery. Here's what people are
saying about his life and contributions.
His Incredible Humanitarian Work The Kansas City Star's Sam Bellinger writes, "According to reports, he made
nearly $6 million in his career, and,
aside from a few American comforts, spent it all trying to save lives
and educate children back home. He has given so much and received little
in comparison. He was once lured back to his home country with the
promise of a cabinet post, only to find out he would be required to
convert to Islam. When he refused, he was stranded for nearly five
years. His trust and good intentions have been abused so many times.
Even while playing, he went into war zones to help the Lost Boys and
other refugees. Sometimes, those visits were interrupted by bombings
from warlords who viewed Bol as a threat. His family was wiped out by
Darfurians, but when that country became victims, Bol was one of the
first Sudanese to speak out in support."
Died Doing What He Loved The Associated Press reports,
"After the NBA, Bol worked closely as an advisory board member of Sudan
Sunrise, which promotes reconciliation in Sudan. Bol was hospitalized
in mid-May during a stopover in Washington after returning to the United
States from Sudan. [Sudan Sunrise Director Tom] Prichard said then that
Bol was in Sudan to help build a school in conjunction with Sudan
Sunrise but stayed longer than anticipated after the president of
southern Sudan asked him to make election appearances and use his
influence to counter corruption in the county. He said Bol had undergone
three dialysis treatments and developed Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, a
condition that caused him to lose patches of skin. Prichard said the
skin around Bol's mouth was so sore he went 11 days without eating and
could barely talk."
Went Broke Helping Sudan Voice of
America's James Butty writes, "Bol was
almost destitute in 2001 and began appearing in promotional stunts, such
as celebrity boxing matches, to raise funds for his homeland." Joe
Madison, who worked with Bol on Sudan relief efforts, tells Voice of
America, "He understood what a lot of athletes go through in this
country, particularly when they seem to be extraordinary. Here was a man
who people tried to commercialize. He refused to allow himself to be
commercialized just for the sake of enriching his own lot. He did it
just to save lives."
Fellow Players Loved Him The
Washington Post's Matt Schudel writes, "Charles
Barkley, who was Manute's teammate with the Philadelphia 76ers, had one
of the kindest and most perceptive comments about an athlete I've ever
read or heard: 'You know, a lot of people feel sorry for him, because
he's so tall and awkward. But I'll tell you this -- if everyone in the
world was a Manute Bol, it's a world I'd want to live in.'"
Jon Steven Williams tweets,
"Most NBA cats go
broke on cars, jewelry & groupies. Manute Bol went broke building
hospitals." The tweet was reproduced
in Express, the Washington Post's free daily newspaper.
May Have Coined 'My Bad'Geoffrey K. Pullum of
the University of Pennsylvania's Language Log explains the theory that
Bol's Dinka language may have led him to use the phrase "my bad," which
Pullum suggests became popular on Bol's 1988 team, the Golden State
Warriors, and then spread into the general discourse.
Bol's SNL Skit Comedy site Funny or Die posts this old Saturday Night Live clip
featuring Bol. "In honor of Manute Bol, a great person and humanitarian,
who passed away today."
The Atlantic Wire is your authoritative guide to the news and ideas that matter most right now. Our team tracks newsmakers and opinions across the entire media spectrum: newspapers, web sites, television, radio and magazines.
But we do more than just collect information. By synthesizing, analyzing and summarizing what’s out there, and adding new information when we can, we are a news engine that gives you a quick and valuable account of the issues of the day.