Manute Bol killed a lion with a spear. He really did, look it up.
Bol was a walking Ripley’s Believe It or Not! exhibit, standing a sky-scraping 7’7” while weighing a mere 200 pounds. This classic image says it all, showing Bol juxtaposed with Bullets teammate Muggsy Bogues (the shortest player in NBA history at 5’3”). Bol is the only player in NBA history to average more blocked shots (3.3 per game) in his career than points (2.6 per game). My favorite memory of Manute Bol is that period in the middle of his career when he decided he was going to be a three-point shooter. And believe it or not, he wasn’t horrible at it!
Most sports fans can rattle off the fun fact of Manute Bol being the tallest player in NBA history (tied with My Giant act-lete Gheorghe Mureson), but there was much more substance to the man than that. Bol’s story is similar to that of Saleh, the character in the movie The Air Up There. Okay, he wasn’t recruited by Kevin Bacon, but he is the son of a tribal leader in northeast Africa. Speaking of Manute Bol’s birth, this is what Wikipedia currently states:
“He is believed to have been born October 16, 1962 in either Turalei or Gogrial, Sudan.”
You know his village is off the grid if his birth date and birthplace are unknown. Manute provided hoops fans with plenty of entertainment, but his most valuable impact to humanity was his global activism and charitable work after his career to help the Sudanese people.
When Manute Bol was fitted into his custom 8-foot casket in 2010 after his unfortunate passing, I thought the Bol story had come to an end. Not so fast. I recently found this video of Manute’s 15-year-old son Bol Bol (great name!). He is 6’11” with guard skills. I’ll be patiently waiting to see if he has want it takes to carry on the Bol NBA Legacy and to see if he hits another growth spurt.