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Manute Bol, former Washington Bullet and one of NBA's tallest players, dies at 47

The shot-blocking giant, one of the NBA's tallest players at 7-7, succumbed to complications from a rare skin disease at 47, a relative said.

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Mr. Bol's highest salary in the NBA was $1.5 million. When he returned to Sudan in 1998, he supported a large extended family and had other homes in Egypt and the United States. He donated an estimated $3.5 million to a Dinka-led rebel group, lost money in business deals and was forced to sell his houses and furniture. His wife divorced him and moved to New Jersey with their four children.

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By 2001, he was almost destitute. He sometimes appeared in embarrassing promotional stunts, such as celebrity boxing matches, to raise funds for his homeland.

"I don't work for money," he said in 2006. "I work to save people. I can always make more money, but you can't bring back those that are gone."

In Sudan, where plural marriage is not uncommon, Mr. Bol married two younger women and had five more children. After a political dispute with his one-time supporters, he became a virtual exile in his own country.

In 2002, Mr. Bol was admitted to the United States as a religious refugee and moved to West Hartford, Conn., where his rent was paid by a Catholic charity. Two years later, he was critically injured in a taxi accident near Hartford in which his driver was killed. Mr. Bol recovered from a coma and broken neck, then settled in Olathe, Kan., where he had lived for the past few years.

He suffered other maladies, including joint pain that limited his mobility, and was hospitalized in May with kidney failure after Stevens-Johnson syndrome left him unable to eat for 11 days.

Yet even amid setbacks, Mr. Bol never lost his optimism or his gratitude toward a game that had taken him so far in the world.

"I had a good time with the American people," he told Sports Illustrated in 2001. "I hope they remember me as a good guy who played hard. I wasn't Michael Jordan, but I was somebody called Manute Bol."


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