January 20, 2011
Born in the capital city of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dikembe Mutombo is the seventh of ten children born to Samuel and the late Biamba Marie Mutombo. He arrived in the United States in 1987 on an academic scholarship to attend Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. In his second year at Georgetown, Coach John Thompson invited the 7′2″ Mutombo to try out for the university’s basketball team.
The Denver Nuggets drafted Mutombo soon after his graduation from Georgetown and in 1996, he signed a five-year free agent contract with the Atlanta Hawks. On February 22, 2001, Mutombo joined the Philadelphia 76ers where the team advanced to the 2001 NBA Finals for the first time since 1983.
Mutombo is a four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and ranks 1st in NBA rebounds per game. In August 2002, he joined the New Jersey Nets and that team advanced to the Finals in 2003. In late 2004, Mutombo joined the Houston Rockets and after 18 seasons in the NBA, Mutombo retired from professional basketball in May 2009.
Honored with USA Weekend magazine’s “Most Caring Athlete Award,” Mutombo has long been dedicated to improving the health, education and quality of life for the people in his native country. In 1997, he created the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, which is attempting to eradicate many childhood diseases that have virtually disappeared in developed countries but are still life threatening to children in the Congo.
Mutombo has been named ABC’s Person of the Week, Essence Magazine’s 2001 Achiever, and Sporting News’ No. 1 Good Guy. Mutombo has been featured in Europe’s TIME magazine, Sports Illustrated for Kids, the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Houston Chronicle just to name a few. Mutombo has served on the Advisory Board for the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health and was a board member for George Washington University’s Africa Center for Health and Security. He presently serves on the boards for the National Constitution Center, Opportunity International, and UNICEF.