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YouTube Gold: The Best Of Manute Bol

Bol blocked shots like no one else, but he was much more than a basketball player

Washington Bullets vs Los Angeles Lakers
Muggsy Bogues #1, Point Guard for the Washington Bullets stands beside Billy Thompson #55 of the Los Angeles Lakers and team mate #10 Manute Bol during their NBA Pacific Division basketball game on 23rd February 1988 at The Forum arena in Inglewood, Los Angeles, California, United States. The Lakers won the game 111 - 100.
Photo by Rick Stewart/Allsport/Getty Images

Manute Bol was arguably the most unusual NBA player of all time. At 7-7 and only about 200 lbs., Bol was one of the best shot blockers of all time and, to everyone's surprise, could eventually shoot threes as well.

Born in the Sudan and a Dinka, he came to the US to play college ball at Bridgeport.

From the beginning, he was something of a mythical figure. One of the most famous stories about Bol is that he killed a lion with a spear. Bol downplayed it, insisting that the lion was sleeping.

He was awkward on the court but no one ever doubted Bol’s courage. He could completely shut down the inside and, at times, step out to hit threes (Golden State’s Don Nelson seemed to particularly enjoy using him this way).

After his career, Bol dedicated himself to helping his people during the Sudanese Civil War and spent everything he had to do it.

He died of kidney failure at just 47.

Or at least everyone thought he was 47. People eventually began to suspect that he was much older. He was listed at 23 when he was at Bridgeport, but the man who helped get him stateside, former Cleveland State coach Kevin Mackey, just put down 23 because no one, including Bol, had any idea when he was born.

Mackey thought Bol might have played in the NBA when he was 50, which is just one more mind-boggling thing about Bol Bol’s old man.