|November 3, 2008|
Former NBA player Manute Bol to speak at Union
Manute Bol, who at 7-feet, 7-inches gained notoriety as the NBA’s tallest player and now uses his fame to support various causes in his native Sudan, will speak at Union College Thursday, Nov. 6.
Bol’s talk, at 6 p.m. in Memorial Chapel, is free and open to the public.
Julius "Dr. J" Erving finds his path to the basket blocked by 7-foot-7 Manute Bol during a game in the 1980s.
Bol grew up as a Dinka tribesman in southern Sudan and began playing basketball at age 15. He arrived in the U.S. in 1983, playing one season for the University of Bridgeport before joining the NBA. Weighing barely 225 pounds, Bol did not provide value by scoring, but as a shot-blocking specialist. He was drafted by the Washington Bullets, swatting a league-leading 397 shots as a rookie. During his 10-year NBA career, Bol also played for Golden State, Philadelphia and Miami, averaging 3.3 blocks, 4.2 rebounds and 2.6 points per game.
Despite difficulty speaking English, Bol achieved celebrity status due to his unusual proportions, which included a 48-inch inseam, size-16 feet and 125-inch reach. He appeared on shows like Letterman, and comedian Woody Allen once quipped, “Manute Bol is so skinny his team saves money on road trips. They just fax him from city to city.”
But issues in Sudan remained integral to Bol’s life. Bol averaged more than $1 million a season in salary, sending millions back home to his countrymen. He became involved in ending the civil war between his fellow Christians in southern Sudan and the Muslims in northern Sudan, which claimed more than two million lives and created four million refugees. Bol has appeared before the U.S. Congress and helped broker a peace treaty to end the conflict.
Since his retirement from professional basketball, Bol, who is believed to be 46, has devoted much of his time to charity work in Sudan. He is currently working with Sudan Sunrise, a group that promotes reconciliation, to build a school in the village where he was raised.
Bol’s talk is sponsored by the Speaker’s Forum.