Lifting Lives

Dikembe Mutombo was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1966. His original intent was to become a doctor, but his family encouraged him to explore a career in basketball due to his height. He would eventually grow to be 7’2”.

When Dikembe came to America at age 21, he enrolled at Georgetown University to study medicine. Again, his height changed his career plans. Coach John Thompson recruited him to play for the Georgetown basketball team. He spoke no English when he came to America, but quickly picked up the language skills he needed. Today he speaks 9 languages.

While Dikembe was an outstanding basketball player at Georgetown, what he did in his summers was even more impressive. Rather than spending his time in the gym, he was an intern for the U.S. Congress and World Bank. He graduated with degrees in linguistics and diplomacy.

Dikembe had a remarkable 18 year career in the NBA. He was an NBA All-Star 18 times and is in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.

While Dikembe has had a distinguished basketball career, his career after basketball has been even more impressive. He has become a humanitarian. Included among his humanitarian efforts are:

  • Building a 300 bed hospital near his hometown of Kinshasa, the Congolese capital
  • Continuing support for Special Olympics
  • Support for Basketball Without Borders throughout Africa
  • Lead a campaign for the reduction of polio worldwide
  • Support for visually impaired children in Washington, D.C.
  • Construction of an elementary school in his homeland
  • A Trustee of the National Constitution Center dedicated to the U.S. Constitution
  • Work with the U.S. State Department to support individuals with disabilities in South Sudan
  • Creation of a coffee company to encourage women growers in the Congo.


He has received a President’s Service Award, our nation’s highest honor for service. He was a special guest of President George W. Bush in his 2007 State of the Union address.

Just imagine how an individual with God-given stature can use the talent that comes with that stature to lift the lives of others. And how might such efforts serve as a role model for others with similar talents and resources.

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“When you take the elevator to the top, please remember to send it back down so someone else might use it.”  – Dikembe Mutombo


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