Monday, June 21, 2010

Bon Voyage, Manute Bol

It is a sad day as we mourn the passing of former NBA great and 7'7" giant Manute Bol at the young age of 47. Bol was born on October 16, 1962 in Sudan. Bol died from acute kidney failure and complications from Stevens–Johnson syndrome. The son of a Dinka tribal chief, Manute means "special blessing." Bol came for a family of extraordinarily tall men and women: "My mother was 6 feet 10, my father 6 feet 8 and my sister is 6 feet 8," he said. "And my great-grandfather was even taller — 7 feet 10." As a boy, Bol had tended his family’s cattle. According to a tale he was often asked to repeat in interviews, he once killed a lion with a spear while he was working as a cow-herder.

Bol was very active in charitable causes throughout his career. In fact, he said he spent much of the money he made during a 10-year NBA career supporting various causes related to his war-ravaged nation of birth, Sudan. As a true Activist for his native Sudan, Manute established the Ring True Foundation in order to continue fundraising for Sudanese refugees. He gave most of his earnings (an estimated $3.5 million) to their cause. In 2002, Fox TV agreed to broadcast the telephone number of his Ring True Foundation in exchange for Bol's agreement to appear on their Celebrity Boxing show. After the referee goaded, "If you guys don't box, you won't get paid," he scored a third-round victory over former football player William "The Refrigerator" Perry. In the fall of 2002, Bol signed a one-day contract with the Indianapolis Ice of the Central Hockey League. Even though he couldn't skate, the publicity generated by his single game appearance helped to raise money to assist children in Sudan. Bol once suited up as a horse jockey for similar reasons. A true gentle giant and all-around good guy, we at Ricky Vaughn 99 salute Manute for all of his charitable contributions. He will be missed.

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