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Sudanese basketball star Manute Bol dies

The Sudanese basketball player Manute Bol has died at the age of 47 on Saturday at the University of Virginia Medical Center. He had been hospitalised late in May after returning from Sudan, suffering from a rare skin disorder and severe kidney trouble.

Manute Bol was a Dinka tribesman from Turalei village in South Sudan. He took up basketball in his teens and after he was spotted in Sudan by a US coach, he flew to the United States in 1982 with no English and little formal education.

Three years later he joined the NBA where, with his height of 7’ 6”, or 2m 28 cm, he would be the tallest NBA player ever for most of his career.

Although he could reach the basketball hoop without jumping, he spent most of his time in defense, blocking shots from the opposition. In his first season in the NBA he set a rookie record, blocking an average of five shots per game.

He began his career with the Washington Bullets and went on to play for the Golden State Warriors, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Miami Heat, for a total of ten seasons.

Bol traveled to Sudan almost every year while he was playing in the NBA, and followed the progress of South Sudan closely, donating much of his earnings to political causes. He had said he dreamed of returning to Turalei to live and was there late last year to check on construction of a school being built in the village.

He is survived by his wife and ten children.

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