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NBA Star And Humanitarian Giant Manute Bol, Dies At 47

The towering figure of Manute Bol playing for the then Washington Bullets

Manute Bol, the 7-foot-7 NBA superstar and super humanitarian, died on Saturday, June 19, 2010. He was 47.

This was announced in a news release from M. Sliwa Public Relations (http://www.msliwa.com).

“Much has been said and written about Manute Bol, and most of the focus has been on his fabulous nine-year career as the tallest person to ever play in the NBA. But there is a much deeper side to the seven-foot-seven native of Sudan. Although he and his family lived in Olathe, Kansas, he always called the village of Turalei in Southern Sudan his home,” said the release.

It added that Manute often traveled back to Sudan and spent much time promoting peace, especially in Darfur, and helping friends and family as much as he can.

“Manute 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,” said John Zogby, President of Zogby International, and a Sudan Sunrise board member

An un-educated young man when he came to the US to attend school and play basketball in 1983, Manute has since come to place a high value on education. He knows that one of the important keys to peace in Sudan is education for its children and learning English. As an active member of Sudan Sunrise he dedicated his life to helping the Sudanese.

“Sudan and the world have lost a hero and an example for all of us,” said Tom Prichard, executive director of Sudan Sunrise, who had worked closely with Bol in the Sudan and also the U.S.

Manute Bol stands with men in his village of Turalei, Sudan, and a compressed earth block press, which is being used to make bricks for a school

Sudan Sunrise is a grassroots movement of Sudanese and Americans working together to facilitate the reconciliation efforts of all Sudanese. This movement began in 2004 when Southern Sudanese took aid to refugees from the genocide in Darfur. This aid effort was extraordinary because the Darfurians had been used by the government of Sudan in a 22-year war against the Southerners which left 2 million of them dead and 4 million displaced.

Sudden death

Bol died at the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville, where he was being treated for severe kidney trouble and a painful skin condition, Prichard said.

Bol was hospitalized in mid-May during a stopover in Washington after returning to the United States from Sudan. 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.

Prichard said it’s believed Bol contracted the skin disease as a reaction to kidney medication he took while in Africa.

Bol’s Legacy

Bol played in the NBA with Washington, Golden State, Philadelphia and Miami, averaging 2.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.3 blocks for his career. He led the league in blocks in 1985-86 with Washington (5.0 per game) and in 1988-89 with Golden State (4.3 a game).

“Manute’s impact on this city, our franchise and the game of basketball cannot be put into words,” 76ers president and general manager Ed Stefanski said in a statement. “He … was continually giving of himself through his generosity and humanitarian efforts in order to make the world around him a much better place, for which he will always be remembered.”

Bol joined the NBA with the Washington Bullets in 1985 and played three seasons there.. He returned to the team briefly toward the end of his career. The Wizards [their new name] lauded him as a “true humanitarian and an ambassador for the sport of basketball.”

“Despite his accomplishments on the court, his lasting legacy will be the tireless work and causes he promoted in his native Sudan and the cities in which he played,” the club said in a statement.

After the NBA, Bol worked closely as an advisory board member of Sudan Sunrise, which promotes reconciliation in Sudan.

Note: Sudan Sunrise, a not-for-profit, non- denominational organization, is a movement of Americans, Sudanese and others to facilitate reconciliation and solidarity between Southern Sudanese Christians, Darfurian Muslims and all Sudanese. For more information on Manute Bol’s schools in Sudan, see: www.sudansunrise.org/programsmanutebol.htm

For interviews on this story contact M. Sliwa Public Relations, 973-272-2861, media@msliwa.com

Dan Wooding, Assist News Service

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