I've been a big fan of Dikembe Mutombo for a long time. Even though he went to a rival school of the UConn Huskies I grew up cheering, Georgetown, I respected his play and grew to love his defensive play when he was a member of the Denver Nuggets. I used to have his jersey and everything.
But as I got older, I learned more about the man. I learned of the wartorn Congo of which basketball helped him escape. I learned of his regular summer trips back to his homeland to help make it a better place (including scares such as a life-threatening case of malaria in 1999). And today, I learned the story of the death of his mother, who was stopped 10 minutes away from a hospital due to closed streets among civil unrest, preventing potentially life-saving treatment.
That's why it was again nice to read today about Mutombo giving $15 million to build a 300-bed hospital in Kinshasa, and naming after his late mother. He's one of those athletes you want your kids to admire, because not only is he a gifted athlete, but he knows how good he has it and wants to help out those who are suffering in worse conditions.
Hopefully we'll continue to read about Dikembe's good works, and we can strive to do some of the same work ourselves, even if it is on a much smaller scale.