Sudanese former NBA basketball player whose major "talent" was being 7 foot 7 inches tall.
Bol (DOB: October 16, 1962, according to league records; several years older according to Bol himself—died June 19, 2010) was discovered by American coaches in the Sudan in the early 1980s (the 1994 movie "The Air Up There" is similar in nature, as far as American coaches recruiting African players). He came to the United States shortly afterwards and learned how to speak English.
He only played college basketball for one season, 1984-1985, for lightly regarded Division II Bridgeport. Bol was impressive enough to be taken by the Washington Bullets in the 2nd round (31st overall) of the 1985 NBA draft.
Bol awed fans with his 7'7" height and his pole-like frame (his weight was around 225 pounds for most of his career, which is healthy for a 6-footer, but not for someone of Bol's height).
In his 1985-1986 rookie season, Bol led the league in blocked shots with 397 (4.96 per game). However, that would be his career high, since it was discovered that Bol had hardly any other basketball skills. He only averaged 3.7 points per game and 6.0 rebounds per game, despite starting a career-high 60 games that season.
Bol played in Washington for 2 more seasons, during which his playing time (and blocked shots) decreased. His last season in Washington (1987-1988) was noteworthy in that the Bullets also had 5'3" Muggsy Bogues on the team. This gave the Bullets the tallest and shortest players in league history...at the same time.
The Golden State Warriors acquired Bol in 1988, and Manute shocked the league by hitting 20 3-point shots in 1988-1989 (in his three seasons in Washington, Bol had not hit a single 3-pointer). There was no stranger image than 7'7" Bol spotting up to fire a long-range three-pointer. In that season, he also scored a career-high 3.9 points per game.
After 2 seasons with Golden State, Bol went to the Philadelphia 76ers in 1990. Manute played 3 seasons there. In the 1993-1994 season, Bol played for three teams: the Miami Heat, followed by his second stints with Washington and Philadelphia.
Bol ended his 10 season NBA career in 1994-1995, playing 5 games for the Golden State Warriors (his second stint there, as well).
In 624 regular season games (133 starts), Bol had 2086 blocks (3.3 per game), but only 1599 points (2.6 per game) and 2647 rebounds (4.2 per game). At the time of his last NBA game, Bol was on the league's all-time top 10 in blocked shots.
At the height of his career (uh, no pun intended...really), Bol was quite popular just because he looked so bizarre. In 1986, he even appeared on "Late Night With David Letterman". Bol was also the subject of the 1993 book "Manute: The Center of Two Worlds" by Leigh Montville.
As part of Sports Illustrated's July 2-9, 2001 "Where Are They Now?" issue, the magazine caught up with Bol. He had returned home to Sudan in 1997 and his involvement in peace talks helped to temporarily end the nation's civil war. However, some bad investments and mooching friends and relatives has caused Bol to become so poor that he does not own a car anymore. Bol hopes to return to the United States to raise his family and maybe coach basketball.
If he could coach kids into growing to be 7'7" tall, maybe there's a future for Manute Bol after all.