NBA Legend Dikembe Mutombo was born in the capital city of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mutombo is the seventh of ten children born to Samuel and the late Biamba Marie Mutombo. He arrived in the United States in 1987 on an academic scholarship to attend Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. In his second year at Georgetown, Coach John Thompson invited the 7’2″ Mutombo to try out for the university’s renowned basketball team. After joining the team, Mutombo re-directed his pre-med ambitions and graduated from Georgetown with dual degrees in Linguistics and Diplomacy. He is fluent in nine languages, including five African languages. He played professional basketball for 18 years before retiring from the Houston Rockets in 2009.
Giving back has always been a trademark of Mutombo ever since he entered the NBA in 1991. As a former spokesman for CARE, the international relief agency, Mutombo visited the Somali refugee camps in Northern Kenya in 1993 and traveled with NBA Commissioner David Stern and Georgetown colleagues Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning to Cape Town and Johannesburg.
In 1996, Mutombo paid for the Congo’s women’s basketball team’s trip to Atlanta for the Summer Olympics games and also picked up the tab for the track team’s uniforms and expenses. He is the first Youth Emissary for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and he also served on the Advisory Board for the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health and presently serves on the boards of the National Constitution Center , Opportunity International, the Special Olympics and on the National Board for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Mr. Mutombo has also served as an Advisor and Consultant to Freeport McMoRan and as an advisor to Hewlett-Packard.
Mutombo has been named ABC’s Person of the Week, Essence Magazine’s 2001 Achiever, and Sporting News’ No. 1 Good Guy. Mutombo has been featured in Europe’s TIME magazine, Sports Illustrated for Kids, the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Houston Chronicle just to name a few.In 2009, NBA Commissioner David Stern appointed Mutombo to the newly created position of Global Ambassador. In this capacity he has traveled throughout the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Mutombo now works to grow and celebrate the game through numerous international NBA events including Basketball without Borders. In addition, he works closely on NBA Cares outreach efforts with Hall of Famer Bob Lanier who serves as Special Assistant to the Commissioner.
Mutombo is the Chairman and President of the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation which he created in 1997. Located in Atlanta, Georgia the Foundation’s mission is to improve the health, education and quality of life for the people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. One major project was the construction of a new general hospital in the capital city of Kinshasa, DR Congo. In December 2007 and at a cost of $29 million, the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital opened in the DR Congo. Named in memory of Mutombo’s beloved mother, the hospital has treated over 100,000 men, women and children.