Dikembe Mutombo Honored Again As A Humanitarian
In a perfect world, my phone would ring, I’d answer it, and it would be Dikembe Mutombo calling to say it’s time to come work for him. But in an Ideal world, Dikembe would be cherished and awarded for his unprecedented humanitarian work…and on Friday, it happened…Dikembe Mutombo received the J. Walker Kennedy Citizenship Award from the Professional Basketball Writers Association. In and of itself, that’s quite an honor, but this is the SECOND time he’s won the award, and the first player in History to do so. (Sorry Steve Nash, he beat ya to it)
“That Dikembe Mutombo would be the first player to repeat as a J. Walter Kennedy award winner speaks as highly of the honor as it does of him,” PBWA president Doug Smith said. “No player has given more freely of his time, his money and himself, on a consistent basis than Mutombo through the years. His and his foundation’s continuing efforts in building, maintaining and improving the hospital in Kinshasa are widely known and set a standard for NBA players, and frankly, athletes across all sports. The PBWA is delighted to present him — again — with this award.”
What more can I say about a man who’s been awarded the Presidents Service Award in 1999, inducted into the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame in 2007, acknowledged by former President George W. Bush in his 2007 State of the Union Address for his work in support of African causes and continued to inspire an entire team while putting up numbers on the court?
I know I’d sound like a broken record if I went off about his decade long quest to raise $29M for the building of the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital and Research Center in Kinshasa…or how he personally kicked in close to $19M of his own money to make it a reality…or how he has promised to never give up his work to raise money for its operating costs…but I can’t help it. In a world where ‘hate’ sells, I will forever be grateful to Dikembe for his love towards humanity…for his unwavering responsibility of being a role model among professional athletes gone crazy and using his influence to do good deeds.
“The Congo lost more than 300,000 children last year alone from malaria,” Mutombo said. “The treatment will cost no more than $10. If we can come up with $2 million for treatment, with 100,000 people donating $20, there is a chance for us to really eradicate malaria in that particular area. …I know it is going to be difficult to stop people from dying, because death is part of our lives,” he said. “But to prevent as many deaths as possible, it is up to us to do so. This is something I will do the rest of my life.”
Although it looks as if Dikembe’s on-court career is over due to a torn tendon, the upside is that I suspect that we’ll see much more of him now that he’s not playing. “My prayer is that as many people as we have in Houston, maybe 100,000 will respond to my call to donate $20 or more,” Mutombo told the Houston Chronicle in March. “After that, I’m planning to go after every city that I played for.” The eight-time NBA All-Star and four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year has played in Denver, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York and Houston.
Thank you Dikembe Mutombo. Thank you for all the finger wagging, basket slamming, ball flying on-court action. But more importantly, thank you for caring on a global scale. We have been blessed by your presence and infected with your passion…thank you for not forgetting those in the Congo…thank you for making us aware…thank you for being you. You, my friend, are a necessity that I, for one, could not live without. I will be waiting patiently by the phone…
As always, thanks for reading. Delinda@athlebrities.com