I bought a Manute Bol autograph for $37 off Ebay. Behind the autograph which looks like a five year old learning to scrawl his name in crayon, stands a giant; an incredible man, and a guy who will never be forgotten.
A few will look back at the picture of his rookie card which features Bol’s elbow even with the rim, and they’ll remember a guy who led the league in blocked shots as a member of the Wizards when they were still the Bullets.
The tallest player in NBA history, the 7-foot-7 Manute Bol was a humanitarian who died penniless and unable to pay his hospital.
He donated his entire salary back to his homeland, and will most fondly be remembered for his three-point shooting tirade as a member of the Golden State Warriors.
I remember watching that performance waiting for school to start in home room in 9th grade, and that was the second time I took notice of Bol. The first was as a 7th grader. About 5’1″ at the time, I came up no higher than his waist. Rest In Peace, Gentle Giant.
The years will pass, and maybe there will be a few true giants in the league. Basketball is certainly a sport which renders the tallest naturally successful, but there will never be a guy to tread through our lives quite like Manute. At times, it seems like we’d been visited by a being from a much nicer planet; from a place where guys donate their entire salaries to make sure their former neighbors receive clean water and proper medical treatment.
It’s at least comforting to think Bol might be part of such a race. He didn’t look like the rest of homo sapiens, and his super human heart eventually left without a trace. But for $37 I obtained proof he walked the earth. It might look like my son’s autograph on my refrigerator, but it’s really the autograph of a 7’7″ African prince.