During his 18 years in the NBA, Dikembe Mutombo had been known as one of the best shot blockers and defensive players in league history. Selected 4th overall by the Denver Nuggets in 1991, Mutombo won four Defensive Player of the Year Awards and made eight All-Star Game appearances. The 7-foot center has been regarded as one of the best post defenders of all-time, utilizing his height, power and long reach to his advantage. His humanitarian work around the league and for his native Congo has also been well documented and applauded throughout his career and post-retirement.
In 1997, the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation was created to assist and improve the level of health and education within the Democratic Republic of the Congo while increasing civilian living conditions and well-being. The Foundation focuses on the importance of primary and quality health care and disease prevention, while increasing the promotion of health policies, research and increased easy access to health care education for Congolese people.
In September of 2001, one of Dikembe’s greatest dreams came true as he was a part of the opening of the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital and Research Centerin Kinshasa; his hometown and the Congolese capital. Named after his late mother, the 300-bed facility provides unique and proper health care for some of the areas poorest residents; a luxury most poor Congolese people don’t have the opportunity to receive. The health center also trains and educates the nations health professionals with the latest and best innovations in health care and is one of the few properly facilitated and modern centers in Kinshasa.
Mutombo also serves as the official spokesperson for the international relief agency CARE and is the first Youth Emissary for the United Nations Development Program. In 1996 he offered his hand and provided one of the greatest selfless acts by paying for team uniforms and travel expenses for the Zaire women’s basketball team during the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. He has been instrumental in the fight against polio by strengthening vaccination efforts and providing victims of the disease with proper treatment and care.
In 2007, then United States President George W. Bush, invited Dikembe Mutombo to his State of the Union address in honor of his humanitarian efforts and referred to the eight-time All-Star as a “son of the Congo”; a reference in which Mutombo was deeply honored. For his humanitarian efforts, the NBA has honored Mutombo on two separate occasions by honoring him with the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award in 2001 and 2009. He was also one of 20 recipients of the President’s Service Award; the highest volunteer award in the United States.
Dikembe Mutombo has helped improve the lives of so many Congolese people through beneficial healthcare and education. His selflessness and love for all people have made him a positive impact on so many lives and has created multiple opportunities for those who may not have a chance.
To learn more about the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, visit http://www.dmf.org/