Saturday, June 19, 2010

Manute Bol, 1962-2010. R.I.P.

Former NBA great Manute Bol died today of kidney failure and Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a rare skin disorder. He was 47.

Bol apparently became ill last month after visiting his native Sudan.

Standing seven feet, seven inches, Bol was the tallest player in NBA history.

But Bol stood even taller when it came to the plight of those in his native Sudan. After his NBA career ended, Bol returned to Sudan despite an ongoing civil war that had taken a toll on members of his Dinka tribe. In recognition of his popularity, the Sudanese government offered him a cabinet post. However, there was a catch.

He would have to convert to Islam.

Bol, who was raised a Christian, refused.

From then on, the Sudanese government made his life hell accusing him of being a spy following President Clinton's decision to bomb Sudan following the attacks on the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. While he would eventually be allowed to leave Sudan he had to essentially pay the government a bribe to exit the country. After some time in Egypt, Bol was allowed to come to the United States as a refugee in 2002.

Bol sustained a broken neck in a car accident in 2004. But it wouldn't deter him from trying to help his people.

Here's a short interview Bol did with Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugged following the launch of the Sudan Freedom Walk in New York in March 2006.

Now there walked a brave man.

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