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Rest In Peace, Manute Bol
June 19, 2010 6:33 PM   Subscribe

Former NBA player and humanitarian Manute Bol has died.

The 7’7” center from Sudan entered the league in 1985 as something of a novelty, known for his astounding height, rail-thin frame, and shot blocking ability and is most likely the only NBA player to have killed a lion with a spear. These 2006 articles from Sports Illustrated and the AP summarize his basketball career and personal struggles. Off the court, the Dinka tribesman was a hero and activist for peace in his native Sudan and worked closely with Sudanese Sunrise, a non-profit organization that builds schools and works towards reconciliation in Bol's troubled homeland. He was also known for his sense of humor and appeared in a Saturday Night Live spoof commercial. Bol passed away at age 47 of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, a skin disease that resulted from an allergic reaction to kidney medication.
posted by emd3737 (74 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
R.I.P.
posted by Ratio at 6:38 PM on June 19, 2010




This is a very sad loss. My heart goes out to his family and the thousands of people he touched with his kindness and generosity.
posted by dhammond at 6:57 PM on June 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


There was a good tweet that made the rounds this morning... "Most NBA cats go broke on cars, jewelry & groupies. Manute Bol went broke building hospitals." (yea I'm quoting twitter get over it).
posted by SirOmega at 6:58 PM on June 19, 2010 [33 favorites]


He was one of the good guys.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:59 PM on June 19, 2010


Oops forgot

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posted by SirOmega at 6:59 PM on June 19, 2010


Oh god. A friend's father died of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome a few years ago. It's a truly horrible disease, and often not noticed quickly enough--you're told to keep taking the medication that's causing it, which can quickly put you past the point of possible recovery.
posted by Beardman at 6:59 PM on June 19, 2010


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posted by tilde at 7:02 PM on June 19, 2010


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posted by LobsterMitten at 7:06 PM on June 19, 2010


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posted by Earthtopus at 7:08 PM on June 19, 2010


It is so rare to meet genuinely kind people in this world, and now we're all short one man.

Heartbreaking.

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posted by jnaps at 7:10 PM on June 19, 2010


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The first time I had ever heard of Manute Bol, I was eating at a local Ethiopian restaurant in Chicago with my 6'7" husband. I was used to being around tall people. Then, ducking through the door, entered the tallest man I had ever seen in person, using a cane, and followed by a quiet and respectful entourage. He sat a few tables away from us to enjoy dinner, and it was clear from his interaction with them that the staff was both respectful and fond of him. It was Manute Bol.

My husband, basketball fan, was thrilled and filled me in on his career and some of the misfortune that had befallen him since his days on the court (which explained the cane). He never stopped working to benefit the people of Sudan.

RIP, Manute.
posted by jeanmari at 7:16 PM on June 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


I lived in the Bay Area when he played for Golden State. I had a tiny black and white tv loaned to me. If the wind blew it would change the reception so I kept my hand on the antenna. Watching a 7'6" man dribble, pull up, plant, and in his case unfold a series of nearly cylindrical limbs and then drain a shot from beyond the three-point line was fun. His basketball career was sort of an accident of his height and he wasn't really competitive relative to other players and always seemed amazed at his circumstance. I liked that.
posted by vapidave at 7:25 PM on June 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


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posted by evilcolonel at 7:29 PM on June 19, 2010


What an amazing life, cut short too soon.

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posted by D_I at 7:32 PM on June 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by The Potate at 7:33 PM on June 19, 2010



posted by intermod at 7:34 PM on June 19, 2010


Rest in peace, indeed.
posted by wv kay in ga at 7:38 PM on June 19, 2010


I had just read this article about his humanitarian works this morning. I'm very sorry to read that he succumbed to his illness.
posted by immlass at 7:41 PM on June 19, 2010 [1 favorite]




Sad news, and I do wonder if the underlying kidney problems were caused by overuse of NSAIDs, which has resulted in at least two NBA players needing kidney transplants.

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posted by camcgee at 8:04 PM on June 19, 2010


Manute was a fiercely loyal member of the Dinka tribe, and gave a substantial portion of his NBA earnings to the Sudanese Liberation Army, formerly the Darfur Liberation Front. Generally we don't classify people who fund military rebellions as humanitarians.

That's just to clarify in case you feel squeamish about those things. I think it's a wholly appropriate appellation in this case.
posted by clarknova at 8:05 PM on June 19, 2010


This actually made me cry. He was a really nice, kind, and generous person. Man I just can't stop crying, really didn't know it would hit me this hard. One of my favorite athletes to ever grace Philadelphia.
posted by Danila at 8:11 PM on June 19, 2010


Someone once said that Manute Bol was "literally a one-dimensional player".

Manute Bol and Muggsy Bogues

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posted by lukemeister at 8:17 PM on June 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


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posted by ms.jones at 8:20 PM on June 19, 2010


The last time I cared about NBA basketball, Manute Bol was still active. Who knew between then and now he'd do so many great things and get cut out of this world too short. Get a along 76'ers... Get along Manute...

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posted by priested at 8:23 PM on June 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by infinitewindow at 8:23 PM on June 19, 2010


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posted by ZeusHumms at 8:44 PM on June 19, 2010


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posted by Ghidorah at 8:46 PM on June 19, 2010


I still remember a picture of Manute Bol standing in a supermarket aisle, looking down into the next aisle.
posted by dfan at 8:47 PM on June 19, 2010 [1 favorite]




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posted by TBAcceptor at 8:51 PM on June 19, 2010


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posted by Dr. Zira at 8:58 PM on June 19, 2010


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posted by horsemuth at 9:02 PM on June 19, 2010


Ray Ratto of CBS Sports wrote a great column about Manute Bol late last month.
He boxed, and he played hockey, and he was a jockey, despite being ill-suited to all those things -- all because someone would pay him money he could send back home. He willingly played the fool because the problems of his homeland far exceeded his need for personal dignity.

And while he has been unable to find the key to deliver the kind of monetary help the nation needs (as if such a thing could be quantified), he did put his body where his mouth is, over and over again. Thus, you see the pictures of him on skates and atop a horse now, and you don't see the clown, you see the dignity. Because there are times when you endure what you must for the greater cause.
posted by MegoSteve at 9:03 PM on June 19, 2010 [17 favorites]


Ugh. Why do people like this die young. What the fuck is wrong with the world?
posted by dirigibleman at 9:06 PM on June 19, 2010


Too many Kobe Bryants, not enough Manute Bols.

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posted by tommasz at 9:10 PM on June 19, 2010 [21 favorites]


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posted by DZack at 9:49 PM on June 19, 2010


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posted by mike3k at 9:55 PM on June 19, 2010


I was traveling to Atlanta on business staying in a nice hotel in Buckhead. Apparently, so was a professional basketball team. I came downstairs to meet someone in the lobby at 3:30. Waiting for him, along comes Manute Bol. I was not shy and blurted out, "Mr. Bol, love your defense." He stopped and looked at me and said in an accent, "I love everything about you."

RIP
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:00 PM on June 19, 2010 [38 favorites]


I loved him in this mock Family Feud game the 76ers did back in the day.

Also, he is the all time number two shot blocker in the NBA (as measured by blocks per game), behind Mark Eaton. Pretty impressive.
posted by mullacc at 10:05 PM on June 19, 2010


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posted by vorpal bunny at 10:12 PM on June 19, 2010


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posted by thegreatfleecircus at 10:21 PM on June 19, 2010


Manute Bol had a nightclub on U Street in DC during the mid-1990s. As far as nightclubs go, it was worse than mediocre. Their food menu, which featured hummus very heavily, was basically a sham. But Manute and a few of his cousins -- who were miniature versions of Manute, with "miniature" defined as 6' 7" or so -- tended bar, washed dishes, and waited tables. Totally surreal.

Manute was as gracious a host as you would expect, based on most of the comments in the post. It was a pleasant experience to pull up a wooden chair and sit at a table to talk to Manute for a bit about what he thought his future would be. His death is a loss.
posted by Slap Factory at 10:25 PM on June 19, 2010 [1 favorite]




Aww. He wasn't a great basketball player—Mugsy Bogues had a more legit career—but he was a cool guy who seemed to have a figuratively huge heart. I assume a literal one too.
posted by klangklangston at 10:40 PM on June 19, 2010


Time for me to make a donation in his memory.
posted by vorpal bunny at 10:46 PM on June 19, 2010


When I played basketball as a kid, I wanted to be Manute Bol. Not just because of the block or the awkward yet effective threes. But also because of fun things like Charles Barkley pranking Manute.

I'll miss you big guy.
posted by thecjm at 10:54 PM on June 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thanks thecjm. I was going post about Manute finding Rick Mahorn's head under a food bell, but you found the video. A classic.
posted by Cranberry at 10:58 PM on June 19, 2010


i will smoke a not-so-manute bowl in his honor.
posted by jeremy b at 11:36 PM on June 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


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posted by scody at 11:41 PM on June 19, 2010


A short poem in honor of Manute Bol

Manute Bol
Was very tol

posted by motown missile at 12:12 AM on June 20, 2010


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posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:29 AM on June 20, 2010


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posted by lapolla at 2:02 AM on June 20, 2010


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posted by valdesm at 2:53 AM on June 20, 2010


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posted by nevercalm at 3:52 AM on June 20, 2010


I met and knew him when he first came to this country to play ball and attend the college where I taught. He was all that has here been said about him.
posted by Postroad at 4:00 AM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


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posted by genehack at 4:28 AM on June 20, 2010


RIP, sir. Thanks for everything you did.
posted by GrammarMoses at 4:55 AM on June 20, 2010


Sad.
posted by Forktine at 6:20 AM on June 20, 2010


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posted by humanfont at 6:27 AM on June 20, 2010


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posted by DieHipsterDie at 6:47 AM on June 20, 2010


Grilled hotdogs with him once. He was a very nice, shy man.
posted by atchafalaya at 6:54 AM on June 20, 2010


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posted by Vindaloo at 6:57 AM on June 20, 2010


I remember when the 'Sixers signed him. He seemed the freak show until he started his philanthropy, (and showed a deep sense of humor) then he got mad respect and much love. And what's not to love about a basketball player on your home team that can block a shot by just PUTTING UP HIS HAND.

R.I.P Dinkna Dunker.

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posted by djrock3k at 7:02 AM on June 20, 2010


A real gentleman.
posted by fixedgear at 7:03 AM on June 20, 2010


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posted by hydropsyche at 9:54 AM on June 20, 2010


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posted by eviltwin at 10:01 AM on June 20, 2010


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posted by MarshallPoe at 10:49 AM on June 20, 2010


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posted by contessa at 10:57 AM on June 20, 2010


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posted by proneSMK at 6:57 PM on June 20, 2010


I saw Bol play for the 76'ers against the Rockets in Houston. During the game he achieved a record - probably for blocked shots. They stopped the game and announced the record. There was a little party on the court and Manute got a standing ovation from the (mostly) Rockets fans. While celebrating, Barkley and another teammate grabbed Bol by the hands and feet and swung him back and forth.

I remember he had the biggest smile and seemed to be having the time of his life.

Of the many sports events I've watched live over the years, that one still stands out as one of the most memorable. Although I never met Mr. Bol personally, he seemed to have made an almost personal connection with each of the fans there that night.

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posted by syzygy at 2:02 AM on June 21, 2010


Manute Bol in a swimming pool
posted by puny human at 4:37 PM on June 22, 2010


A Manute Bol tribute.
posted by Zed at 2:18 PM on June 24, 2010


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