Remembering Manute Bol

By Dexter Rogers, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: June 22, 2010

INDIANA (BASN) — While many are still coming down from the high of an electrifying seven-game series between the Lakers and Celtics last week, the NBA world lost a superstar of a rare breed in Manute Bol.

Bol sadly died days ago at age 47. Bol passed away at the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville. He was being treated for severe kidney trouble and a painful skin condition called Stephens-Johnson Syndrome.

As those in the NBA and around the country come grips with his passing, many are starting to realize Bol was a real superstar. He’s a star because he had plans to make things better for the unfortunate in America and in his native Sudan.

In his 10-year NBA career that began in 1985, Bol played with four different teams. His numbers aren’t stellar by any stretch. Bol only averaged 2.6 pts, 4.2 pts and 3.3 blocks per game for his career.

Not Hall of Fame stuff but with Bol it wasn’t about numbers — it was about giving.

The General Manager of the Philadelphia 76ers Ed Stefanski issued the following on Bol: “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’s work was vital but not widely publicized. Sadly we live in a society where we thrive on turmoil, negativity and the misfortunes of others. The stories of the Manute Bol’s often get lost amongst those that make money instead of making a difference.

Bol was trying to do his part in making sure he could provide the people of Sudan with an opportunity at living a good life. Sudan is one of the poorest places on earth.

Bol was a true humanitarian who sought to make a difference wherever he was: He was in the process of trying to reach his goal of building 41 schools in his homeland. Sadly he won’t be around to see his goal reached.

Recently the No. 1 tennis player in the world Serena Williams visited Sudan. Taking a page from Bol’s book she’s building schools in Sudan as well. Williams’ goal is to build one school a year to help educate the children and provide them hope.

I’ve long been an advocate of serving whenever possible. Those who have the means to serve a greater good should do so. Professional athletes among others are very privileged.

Many are very selfish with their time and money. Many don’t understand they stand on the shoulders of many who have come before them and it’s vital to lift as well as serve.

It’s not about how much you have it’s what you do with what you have. Bol didn’t make the megabucks like athletes of today yet if you understand the horrific conditions he spawned from you’d realize he was simply doing God’s work.

We live in a society that cares about LeBron James and where he’ll play next. We worry about who will pay him the most money and what the city will earn if he goes there.

At the end of the day who cares? How much of the money the team pays LeBron will go to the unfortunate? Does LeBron even know who sacrificed their career so athletes can have free-agency today?

I’m not picking on LeBron — it’s a message for all athletes. But it’s true many athletes just don’t get it. They keep their resources to themselves and don’t use their platforms to make a difference in society or sport.

Bol was hospitalized in May after returning from Sudan. Bol was there to help build a school. Upon returning to the states he fell ill and eventually passed. Without question Bol did what he could with what he had until he recently took his last breath.

At 47, Bol had a whole life ahead of him. He had people to help and schools to build. His work has gone unfinished yet somehow I think it will be completed even though Bol’s leg of life is over.

Bol’s legacy won’t have to do with championship rings or being elected into the Hall of Fame. His legacy will be predicated on those lives he has touched he touched here and abroad.

As a result somebody will ensure his efforts will not cease as he’s laid to rest in his native Sudan. It’s fine to bury the man, but we must find a way to continue his plan.