Manute Bol, known best for his shot-blocking ability and the humanitarian/ambassadorial work he did for his native Sudan, died on Saturday at University of Virginia Medical Center.
Bol debuted at age 23 with the Washington Bullets in 1985 as the NBA’s tallest-ever player and promptly won the league’s blocking title with 397 total (or a sliver under five per game), or one per 5.5 minute of court time.
In a career which also included stints with the Philadelphia 76ers and Golden State Warriors, Bol would ultimately go on to record 2,086 blocks for his career, currently good for 14th on the all-time NBA leader board in the category.
As an activist working to improve conditions in Sudan, Bol had most recently lived in Sudan for six months, helping in the construction of a school and campaigning for a presidential candidate there. He contracted an illness there which ultimately ended up a combination of kidney problems and Stevens-Johnson Syndrome.
“He really felt that his country needed him,” an associate of Bol told the New York Times. “He really died for his country. He wanted to do everything he could to see southern Sudan make it through this election in the best possible way.”