Manute’s Sad Story of Sudan

In the late ’80s, I remember seeing the tallest basketball player I’ve ever seen play at the Springfield Civic Center. He was Manute Bol, who at 7′ 7″ would later become the tallest man in the NBA. He played with many teams and made millions, but his heart was back in his native Sudan. Arabs were killing Africans in the villages of the Darfur region, and Bol wanted desperately to help. He traveled there, towering over his countymen, donated millions of his own money, and testified before 53 senators and congressmen to try to get them to help.

After arthritis forced him from the league, his mission became a full time job. But he was barely able to walk, and wanted to live in Sudan where he was born. He flew over and was about to become minister of sports, but they said he had to convert to Islam–and he said no, he was a christian. Then he was forced into exile in Egypt, and became guardian of his brother’s child. He spent years trying to help get her into the US, then 9/11 hit and he was an enemy in his adopted land of Egypt. He was beaten in the streets, and in pain from arthritis. When he finally came back to the US, a car accident left him almost paralyzed.

Years of therapy later, and he is optimistic about his tough life. And hoping the rest of the world will wake up and see the suffering in his Sudan.