It saddens me every time an athlete who I have such high praise and respect for, decides to call it a career. What makes it even more heart-breaking is that the final image of this player is that of him being carried off the court after suffering a serious injury.
Thus is this case with NBA center Dikembe Mutombo. Here is a guy, who in my opinion, is a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame. Teams had to adjust their offensive game every time they played against him because he was such a force in the middle with his defense, rebounding and his shot-blocking ability. His finger-waving after a shot-block became as much a symbol to the league as Michael Jordan’s tongue everytime he drove to the basket.
What made Mutombo a remarkable human being though were his countless hours and time he devoted to helping others.
Following is from Wikipedia:
A well-known humanitarian, Mutombo started the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation to improve living conditions in his native Democratic Republic of Congo in 1997. His efforts earned him the NBA's humanitarian award in 2001. For his feats, The Sporting News named him as one of the "Good Guys in Sports" in 1999 and 2000, and in 1999, he was elected as one of 20 winners of the President's Service Awards, the nation's highest honor for volunteer service. In 2004, he also participated in the Basketball Without Borders NBA program, where NBA stars like Shawn Bradley, Malik Rose and DeSagana Diop toured Africa to spread the word about basketball and to improve the infrastructure. He also paid for uniforms and expenses for the Zaire women's basketball team during the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta. Mutombo is a spokesman for the international relief agency, CARE (relief) and is the first Youth Emissary for the United Nations Development Program.
In honor of his humanitarianism, Mutombo was invited to President George W. Bush's 2007 State of the Union Address and was referred to as a "son of the Congo" by the President in his speech, Mutombo later said, "My heart was full of joy. I didn't know the President was going to say such great remarks."
A little Deke footage: