"The key to peace is education" - Manute Bol
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.
Manute often traveled back to Sudan and spent much time promoting peace, especially inDarfur, 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." - John Zogby, President of Zogby International, and Sudan Sunrise board member
"Sudan and the world have lost a hero and an example for all of us," said Tom Prichard, executive director of Sudan Sunrise.
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 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 Washington in 1985 and played three seasons there. He returned to the team briefly toward the end of his career. The Wizards 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.
Source: AP, Sudan Sunrise, Zogby International
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. 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:http://www.sudansunrise.org/programsmanutebol.htm