Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo, commonly referred to as Dikembe Mutombo, is a Congolese American retired professional basketball player who played 18 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Outside basketball, he has become known for his humanitarian work.
Dikembe Mutombo was born on June 25, 1966 in Léopoldville, Democratic Republic of the Congo as one of twelve children to Samuel and Biamba Marie Mutombo. He speaks English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and five Central African varieties. He is a member of the Luba ethnic group. He moved to the United States in 1987 at the age of 21 to enroll in college. Mutombo attended Georgetown University on a USAID scholarship, and his original intention was to become a doctor; however, the Georgetown Hoyas basketball coach John Thompson recruited him to play basketball. In 1991, he graduated with bachelor’s degrees in linguistics and diplomacy.
The 7 feet 2 in (2.18 m) 260 pound (120 kg), Mutombo played center, who began his career with the Georgetown Hoyas, is commonly regarded as one of the greatest shot blockers and defensive players of all time, winning the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award four times; he was also an eight-time All-Star. On September 11, 2015, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
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 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award in 2001 and 2009. Mutombo was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by the State University of New York College at Cortland for his humanitarian work in Africa. More recently, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Georgetown University in 2010. He also received an honorary doctorate degree from Haverford College in May 2011.
ATLANTA, GA – SEPTEMBER 20: Atmosphere at the 2014 Caring for Congo Gala at the ST Regis Atlanta on September 20, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Moses Robinson/O.P.M. Photography)
From the left, Mr. Okazaki – Ashinaga Director of International Affairs (now, President of Ashinaga USA & Member of the Ashinaga Board of Directors), Mr. Mutombo, Mr. Sunaga – Consul General of Japan in Atlanta, Ms. Smith – Ashinaga staff member (now, Director of Ashinaga France)