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Bol in 2006
Turalei or Gogrial, Sudan (now South Sudan)
|Died||June 19, 2010|
Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S.
|Nationality||Sudanese / American|
|Listed height||7 ft 7 in (2.31 m)|
|Listed weight||200 lb (91 kg)|
|NBA draft||1985 / Round: 2 / Pick: 31st overall|
|Selected by the Washington Bullets|
|Number||10, 11, 4, 1|
|1985||Rhode Island Gulls|
|1988–1990||Golden State Warriors|
|1994–1995||Golden State Warriors|
|1995–1996||Florida Beach Dogs|
|1996||C. Montana Forlì|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NBA statistics|
|Points||1,599 (2.6 ppg)|
|Rebounds||2,647 (4.2 rpg)|
|Blocks||2,086 (3.3 bpg)|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Manute Bol (/
After playing college basketball at the University of Bridgeport, Bol was chosen by the Washington Bullets in the 1985 NBA Draft. Bol played for the Bullets and three other teams over the course of his NBA career, which lasted from 1985 to 1995. A center, Bol was considered among the best shot-blockers in the history of the sport, but other aspects of his game were considered below average.
Over the course of his career, Bol blocked more shots than he scored points; he is the only NBA player ever to do so. As of 2010 he ranks second in NBA history in blocked shots per game and 15th in total blocked shots.
Bol was notable for his efforts to promote human rights in his native Sudan and aid for Sudanese refugees.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Cleveland / 1983 NBA draft voided
- 3 College career
- 4 Professional basketball career
- 5 Shot blocking
- 6 Career accomplishments
- 7 Activism
- 8 Personal life
- 9 Death
- 10 Honors
- 11 NBA career statistics
- 12 See also
- 13 References
- 14 External links
Manute Bol was born to Madute and Okwok Bol in Turalei or Gogrial, Sudan (now South Sudan) and raised near Gogrial. Bol's father, a Dinka tribal elder, gave him the name Manute, which means "special blessing".
Bol came from a family of extraordinarily tall men and women. "My mother was 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m), my father 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m), and my sister is 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)", he said. "And my great-grandfather was even taller—7 ft 10 in (2.39 m)." His ethnic group, the Dinka, and the Nilotic people of which they are a part, are among the tallest populations in the world. Bol's hometown, Turalei, is the origin of other exceptionally tall people, including 7 ft 4 in (2.24 m) basketball player Ring Ayuel. Ayuel is a refugee from the civil war, which broke out soon after Bol emigrated to the U.S. and which eventually led to the destruction of most of Turalei.
"I was born in a village, where you cannot measure yourself," Bol reflected. "I learned I was 7 foot 7 in 1979, when I was grown. I was about 18 or 19."
Cleveland / 1983 NBA draft voided
Coach Don Feeley, formerly the coach at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey, traveled to Sudan to coach and held clinics for the Sudanese national team in 1982. Feeley eventually convinced Bol to go to the United States and play basketball.
With Feeley's input, Bol first landed in Cleveland and Cleveland State University under Coach Kevin Mackey. Bol had no formal record of his birthdate and could not provide one, according to Mackey. Mackey listed it as October 16, 1962, on Cleveland State documents, but believed Bol was actually much older.
Bol did not speak or write English at the time of his arrival in Cleveland. He improved his English skills after months of classes at ELS Language Centers at Case Western Reserve University, but not enough to qualify for enrollment at Cleveland State. Bol never played a game for Cleveland State. (Five years later, Cleveland State was placed on two years' probation for providing improper financial assistance to Bol and two other African players.)
1983 NBA draft voided
Clippers Coach Jim Lynam received a call about Bol from Feeley, whom he knew from coaching circles. "So, I said, 'Have you told anyone else about this?'", Lynam recalled. "Feeley said the only one in the NBA he had called was Frank Layden at Utah. He said Frank said he couldn't take another big guy like this. He already had Mark Eaton. I was the second guy Feeley had called. I told him he didn't have to call anyone else."
After the June 1983 draft, Lynam traveled to Cleveland and watched Bol play pickup games. In speaking with Bol, through a fellow Sudanese player, Lynam learned that he had become hesitant about playing professionally because he did not know the language well enough to understand coaches.
Lynam said, "One of the things everyone was looking at was his passport. His passport said he was 19 years old. His passport also said he was five feet two."
When Lynam asked Bol about the discrepancy between his real height and his passport height, Bol said he had been sitting down when measured by Sudan officials.
Language and passport concerns were set aside when the NBA ruled that Bol had not been eligible for the draft and declared the pick invalid. Bol had not declared 45 days before the draft, as required.
With the NCAA questioning his eligibility for NCAA Division I basketball, Bol enrolled at the University of Bridgeport, an NCAA Division II school with an English program for foreign students. There he played for the Purple Knights in the 1984–85 season. His coach was Bruce Webster, a friend of Feeley. Bol averaged 22.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 7.1 blocks per game for Bridgeport. The team, which previously drew 500–600 spectators, routinely sold out the 1,800-seat gym.
Professional basketball career
Bol turned pro after Bridgeport's season ended, signing with the Rhode Island Gulls of the spring United States Basketball League in May 1985, under Coach Kevin Stacom. One of his Gulls teammates was Muggsy Bogues, who later teamed with Bol in Washington.
Going into the 1985 NBA draft, scouts felt that Bol needed another year or two of college, but Bol opted for the draft because he felt it was the only way to earn enough money to get his sister out of Sudan, which was in a state of political unrest at the time. In 1985 the Washington Bullets drafted Bol as the seventh pick in the second round (31st overall). He played in the NBA for ten seasons, from 1985 to 1995, spending parts of four seasons with the Bullets, parts of three with the Golden State Warriors, parts of four with the Philadelphia 76ers, and part of one with the Miami Heat.
Washington Bullets I (1985-1988)
On June 18, 1985, Bol was drafted as the seventh pick in the second round by the Washington Bullets (31st overall).
Bol's first tenure with the Bullets lasted three seasons, from 1985 to 1988. In his rookie season (1985–1986), he appeared in 80 games and recorded a career-high 5.0 blocks per game. His total of 397 blocks set the NBA rookie record and remains the second-highest single-season total in league history, behind Mark Eaton's 456 in 1984–85.
During his NBA career Bol was listed at 7 ft 7 in (2.31 m) tall. He was measured by the Guinness Book of World Records at 7 ft 6 3/4 in tall. Complementing his great height, Bol had exceptionally long limbs (inseam 49 inches (120 cm)) and large hands and feet (size 16 1/2). His arm span, at 8 feet 6 inches (2.59 m), is (as of 2013) the longest in NBA history, and his upward reach was 10 feet 5 inches (3.18 m). He was extremely slender, limiting his offensive capability. When he arrived in the United States, he weighed 180 pounds (82 kg) and had gained just under 20 pounds (9.1 kg) by the time he entered the NBA. The Bullets sent Bol to strength training with University of Maryland coach Frank Costello, where he could initially lift only 44 pounds (20 kg) on 10-repetition bench press and 55 pounds (25 kg) on 10-repetition squat (his body mass index was 15.3 and he initially had a 31" (80 cm) waist). In 1987 the Bullets drafted the 5 ft 3 in (1.60 m) point guard Muggsy Bogues, pairing the tallest and shortest players in the league on the court for one season.
Golden State Warriors I (1988-1990)
Bol's first tenure with the Warriors lasted two seasons, from 1988 to 1990. In his first season with Golden State, he attempted three-point shots with regularity. In that season he attempted a career-high 91 three-pointers and made 20 of them. During this time, he may have helped to popularize the expression "my bad", although a 2005 suggestion that he coined the phrase has been discounted.
Philadelphia 76ers I (1990-1993)
Bol's first tenure with the Philadelphia 76ers lasted three seasons, from 1990 to 1993. He played a career-high 82 games in his first season as a 76er, but his production began to decline afterward (in both games played and per-game statistics). After playing in all 82 games in 1990–91, he played in 71 games the next season, and in 58 (a career low at the time) games the following season. During his last season in Philadelphia, he had a memorable night playing against former teammate Charles Barkley and the Phoenix Suns, hitting 6 of 12 three-pointers, all in the second half in a losing effort. Fans were known to yell "shoot" as soon as Bol received the ball far from the basket.
Miami Heat (1993)
Released by Philadelphia, Bol played in eight games in the 1993–94 season with the Miami Heat, the only team that did not use him as a starter. He scored only one two-point field goal with the team and blocked six shots in 61 total minutes.
Washington Bullets II (1993)
Philadelphia 76ers II (1994)
After his release by Miami, Bol's second stint with the 76ers lasted four games, near the end of the 1993–94 season, helping to mentor 7 ft 6 in (2.29 m) teammate Shawn Bradley. In only 49 minutes he played more aggressively than he did earlier in the season with Miami and Washington. He scored six points, grabbed six rebounds and blocked nine shots.
Golden State Warriors II (1994)
In the 1994–95 NBA season Bol returned to the Warriors. He made the season-opening roster and played his last five NBA games. On a memorable mid-November night Bol finally made his home debut, coming off of the bench to play 29 minutes against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He attempted three three-pointers in the fourth quarter and made them all. Seven nights later in Charlotte, in a game nationally televised by TNT, he was in the starting lineup again. By this time, two weeks into the season, his career seemed rejuvenated under Warrior head coach Don Nelson; he was again a defensive force, making threes and contributing as a starter to create matchup problems. After playing only ten minutes against the Hornets on November 22, 1994, he suffered a season-ending knee injury. Before he left the game, he recorded one block and two points and attempted a three-pointer in ten minutes of play.
Bol was waived by Golden State on February 15, 1995.
Overall in his NBA career, Bol averaged 2.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 0.3 assists, and 3.3 blocks per game, playing an average of 18.7 minutes. He finished his career with 1,599 points, 2,647 rebounds, and 2,086 blocks. He appeared in 624 games over 10 seasons.
Post-NBA basketball career (1995-1998)
Bol played 22 games for the Florida Beach Dogs of the Continental Basketball Association during the 1995–96 season under Coach Eric Musselman. The Beach Dogs' games against the Sioux Falls Skyforce that season were broadcast by ESPN, as the Skyforce also featured a former NBA player, Darryl Dawkins.
In 1996 the Portland Mountain Cats of the United States Basketball League announced that Bol would be playing with the team, but he never appeared in uniform. The Mountain Cats' coach was Kevin Mackey.
With his great height and very long limbs, Bol was one of the league's most imposing defensive presences. Along with setting the rookie shot-blocking record in 1985–86, Bol later tied the NBA record for most blocked shots in one half (11) and in one quarter (eight, twice). On January 31, 1992, in a game against the Orlando Magic, he blocked four consecutive shots in a single possession. In his career he blocked a shot an average of every 5.6 minutes of playing time.
Bol's other basketball skills were very limited, and his rail-thin physique made it difficult for him to establish position against the league's bulkier centers and power forwards. The sight of the tall, gangly Bol spotting up for a three-pointer during blowouts became a fan favorite. Off the court he established a reputation as a practical joker; Charles Barkley, a frequent victim of his pranks, has attested to Bol's sense of humor. Bol also developed a close friendship with Warriors teammate Chris Mullin and named one of his sons after him.
As of 2010, Bol remains:
- First in career blocks per 48 minutes (8.6), almost 50% beyond second-place Mark Eaton (5.8).
- Second in career blocks-per-game average (3.34).
- Fifteenth in total blocked shots (2,086).
- The only player in NBA history to have more blocked shots than points scored.
Bol was active in charitable causes throughout his career. He said he spent much of the money he made during his NBA career supporting various causes related to the war-ravaged nation of his birth, Sudan.
Bol frequently visited Sudanese refugee camps, where he was treated like royalty. In 2001 the Sudanese government offered him the post of minister of sport. Bol, a Christian, refused because one of the conditions was converting to Islam.
Later the Sudanese government hindered Bol from leaving the country, accusing him of supporting the Dinka-led Christian rebels, the Sudan People's Liberation Army. It refused to grant him an exit visa unless he came back with more money. Assistance from supporters in the United States, including Senator Joseph Lieberman, raised money to provide Bol with plane tickets to Cairo, Egypt. After six months of negotiations with U.S. consulate officials regarding refugee status, Bol and his family were finally able to leave Egypt and return to the United States.
Bol established the Ring True Foundation to continue fund-raising 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 foundation's phone number 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. Though he could not skate, the publicity generated by his single-game appearance helped raise money to assist children in Sudan. Bol once suited up as a horse jockey for similar reasons.
Bol was involved in the April 2006 Sudan Freedom Walk, a three-week march from the United Nations building in New York City to the United States Capitol in Washington, DC. The event was organized by Simon Deng, a former Sudanese swimming champion who was a longtime friend of Bol's. Deng, who was a slave from age 9 to 12, is from another tribe in Southern Sudan. His Sudan Freedom Walk focused on finding a solution to the genocide in Darfur (western Sudan) but also sought to raise awareness of the modern-day slavery and human-rights abuses throughout Sudan. Bol spoke in New York City at the start of the walk, and in Philadelphia at a rally organized by former hunger striker Nathan Kleinman.
Bol was also an advocate for reconciliation efforts, and worked to improve education in South Sudan. A Nicholas Kristof article in The New York Times highlighted Bol's work for reconciliation and education with an organization called Sudan Sunrise. Bol first began working with Sudan Sunrise to raise awareness on issues of reconciliation in 2005. This included speaking at the United States Capitol and subsequently partnering with Sudan Sunrise to build schools across South Sudan that, in the spirit of reconciliation, would enroll students regardless of tribe or religion.
Bol had six children with his first wife, Along, and four with his second wife, Ajok.
Another son, Bol Bol (born November 16, 1999), played for the Oregon Ducks in 2018-19. Bol Bol declared for the 2019 NBA draft and was taken 44th overall by the Miami Heat. He was subsequently traded to the Denver Nuggets.
During his time in Egypt Bol ran a basketball school in Cairo. One of his pupils was a fellow Sudanese refugee, Minnesota Timberwolves player Luol Deng, the son of a former Sudanese cabinet minister. Deng later moved to the United States to further his basketball career, maintaining a close relationship with Bol.
Despite initially knowing little English or Western culture, Bol adjusted and was widely regarded as well-rounded, inquisitive, and well-read. He developed a strong friendship with Charles Barkley, who remarked, "If everyone in the world was a Manute Bol, it's a world I'd want to live in. He's smart. He reads The New York Times. He knows what's going on in a lot of subjects. He's not one of these just-basketball guys".
In July 2004 Bol was seriously injured in a car accident in Colchester, Connecticut; he was ejected from a taxi that hit a guardrail and overturned, resulting in a broken neck. The driver was under the influence, with a suspended license. Because his fortunes were mostly donated to Sudan, he was financially ruined because he had no health insurance. When he recovered from his injuries, he moved to Olathe, Kansas.
After his death, tributes to Bol's career and charitable works came from around the United States and the world. His former teams, and the NBA, issued statements in recognition of his impact on the sport of basketball and on Sudan. U.S. Senator Sam Brownback paid tribute to Bol on the floor of the United States Senate.
Funeral service and tributes
Bol's memorial service was held on June 29, 2010, at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. His body lay in an eight-foot-long, specially built casket.
Bol was given tributes by Brownback, former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, Sudan's Ambassador to the United States Akec Khoc Acieu, Bol's uncle Bol Bol Chol, and vice president of the National Basketball Players Association Rory Sparrow.
Sparrow called Bol "a giant off the court" who should be remembered for humanitarian work and his basketball career. Brownback recalled, "He literally gave his life for his people. He went over [to Sudan], he was sick. He stayed longer than he should have. He probably contracted this ailment that took his life while in Sudan, and he didn't have to do that. He was an NBA basketball player. He could have stayed here and had an easy life. I've never seen anybody use his celebrity status more nor give his life more completely to a group of people than Manute Bol did. It makes me look at efforts that I do as not enough."
Ambassador Khoc said, "Manute had a very great heart for his country and people. He did everything to support anybody in need of shoes, blankets, health service, food, and people who were struggling. He went to see them and to encourage them to continue their struggle for their rights, for their freedoms. Manute embodied everything we can think of in Sudan. Reconciling warring groups between the north and south, in Darfur he was working for reconciliation between Darfur and the south and between Darfur and the rest of Sudan. So Manute was a voice for hope."
Sudan Sunrise founder Tom Prichard says Bol's work to reconcile former enemies lives on. "Manute's legacy and vision of education and reconciliation, his determination to grow grassroots reconciliation—whether that reconciliation is expressed in a country that divides or holds together, wherever the boundary lines are drawn. Manute stood for grassroots reconciliation." He added, "There's no question Manute gave his life for his country."
Bol's family patriarch, Bol Bol Chol, said, "This man is not an ordinary man. I believe this man is a messenger like other messengers who were sent into this world—to do something in this world. He has accomplished most of his mission, and so God took him and left the rest of the work to be done by others."
- Bol was inducted into the University of Bridgeport Athletics Hall of Fame, Class of 2010.
- On January 27 2015, the Golden State Warriors honored Bol with a Manute Bol bobble head giveaway. The team sponsored a giveaway of 10,000 of the tallest bobble heads in franchise history, at 10 inches.
- The "Manute Bol Court" was built and constructed in South Sudan by the Luol Deng Foundation in 2015.
- The Manute Bol Peace Builders Basketball Tournament is held annually throughout Sudan.
NBA career statistics
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
|*||Led the league|
- List of National Basketball Association players with most blocks in a game
- List of tallest players in National Basketball Association history
- List of tallest people
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- "Video: A Senate salute to Manute". The Washington Post. 2010-06-22.
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- [dead link]
- "Dignitaries, Friends Say Farewell to NBA's Manute Bol". VOA News. Jun 28, 2010. Retrieved 2012-12-14.
- "University of Bridgeport set to induct four new members into the UB Athletic Hall of Fame on November 6, 2010 - University of Bridgeport". bridgeport.edu.
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- "Beyond Sport". beyondsport.org.
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- "Fairfield County Hall of Fame Honors Manute Bol". 19 October 2016.
- Fierro, David (18 October 2016). "Sports Night dinner honors Hall of Fame inductees". GreenwichTime.
- "Manute Bol at NBA.com". Archived from the original on 2010-04-09. Retrieved 2011-07-07.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- Career NBA stats
- Player Profile (InterBasket)
- Manute Bol at Find a Grave
- Manute Bol on IMDb
- Montville, Leigh (1993). Manute: The Center of Two Worlds. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0671749286.
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