Sunday, June 20, 2010
That 7 foot 7 inch man behind me is the incredible Manute Bol. This picture was taken (a very very long time ago) when I was an intern on Capitol Hill. (That would be the Congressman I worked for also in the picture. He's probably 6 ft as it is- notice how I don't even come to his shoulder!) Manute Bol was playing for the Philadelphia 76ers at the time, and was lobbying on the Hill regarding issues in the Sudan. Meeting him resonated with me, and I followed his career and issues for many years after that. I was very sorry to hear he passed away this week.
Something interesting I learned about him was that all the money and glory of the NBA never went to his head. He sent the bulk of his earnings back to take care of others in the Sudan. He never missed a chance to educate people on the situations in the Sudan. He was truly a very good man.
On the lighter side, I can still remember shaking his hand. I am a mere 5 ft 3. He is 24 inches taller than me! When I shook his hand I remember it wrapped all the way around mine. It wasn't just his finger tips folding around my hand, but his hand completely enveloped mine. I also remember as we were posing for this picture that I turned around to look at him (he was a funny guy and cracking jokes) and realized I was staring right at his belt buckle. I barely came above his waist!
Another funny part I remember was that the male legislative assistants in our office were SO excited to meet him. They kept peeking out to see if he had arrived yet a dozen times that day. Finally, in walked a very tall, black man. And the L.A.'s were so disappointed. The man was tall, but nothing all that impressive or striking. But the man laughed and said, "wait, wait, he is coming!" He was just the bodyguard/handler/translator! (Also seen in the picture. He's probably 6 ft 7.) A moment later in walked Manute Bol, and he had to duck down to walk through the standard 7 ft doorways! (The L.A.'s were thrilled, and also had their pictures taken with him. I believe they all posed with him standing on a coffee table. They were still shorter than him.)