Chairman and President
Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, Inc.
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. He presently serves on the boards of the National Constitution Center, Opportunity International, Special Olympics International and on the National Board for UNICEF. 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 new role, he travels throughout the Middle East, Asia and Africa to grow and celebrate the game of basketball through numerous international NBA events including Basketball without Borders. In addition, he works closely with 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 the Biamba Marie Mutombo hospital in the capital city of Kinshasa, DR Congo.
In December 2007, the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital opened in the Congo. Named in memory of Mutombo’s beloved mother, the hospital has treated over 100,000 men, women and children.
Houston Harvey Relief Fund receives $50,000 donation from Rockets legend Dikembe Mutombo
HOUSTON — Former Rockets player and eight-time NBA All-Star Dikembe Mutombo donated $50,000 to aid the city with Harvey relief efforts during a press conference Friday afternoon at Houston City Hall.
Mayor Sylvester Turner accepted the donation check with gratitude and distinguished Mutombo as one of several retired and still active athletes who have stepped up to support residents still struggling months after the storm. He said the former player, who has become well-known for his humanitarian work, has been an asset to the Houston community for years.
“When I saw [Mutombo] not too long ago, he said two things,” Turner said. “He was going to come visit me here at city hall…and the other thing was that he wanted to help out with the local relief fund.”
Mutombo shared just a few words, crediting the city’s support for his success. Among his accomplishments, Mutombo has built a much-needed $29 million hospital in his homeland, Democratic Republic of the Congo. He said numerous Houston businesses, organizations and locals continue to contribute to the hospital’s operations.
“When the hurricane came in, I knew that we all had to do something,” Mutombo said. “As one of the proverbs says when there is a problem effecting one part of the society, it should be a responsibility of every human being living there and of everyone living on this planet.”
As we transition to 2018, thousands of Houstonians continue to recover from the devastation left by Hurricane Harvey.
Johannesburg, South Africa (Summer 2017)
Basketball Without Borders 2017
Dikembe Mutombo has been instrumental to the growth of basketball in Africa.
Dikembe Mutombo wins Sager Strong award for humanitarian work in Congo
For his wonderful and moving humanitarian work aimed at saving and improving lives of people in Congo, Mutombo is this year’s winner of the Sager Strong Award given annually to a person who displays courage, faith, compassion and grace.
“I’m truly honored to receive the Sager Strong Award. I can only hope to live up to the tradition of Craig Sager, who embodied strength, respect and of course, great style,” Mutombo said. “I know in the NBA we have so many great people who are making a difference. I’m not the only player who is making a difference – Yao Ming, LeBron (James), Alonzo Mourning – so choosing me is very special to me and my family.”
Mutombo will receive the award at the NBA’s season-ending awards show on June 25 in Santa Monica, Calif. TNT will televise the event.
Monty Williams was the winner of the inaugural award in 2017. Mutombo will be presented a colorful replica of the jacket Sager wore while delivering his “Time is simply how you live your life” speech in 2016.
“My goal was to contribute,” Mutombo said. “We never thought we were the solution. We thought we could be part of the solution that some of the problems society is facing, especially the Congo society. I think I started something that I don’t know when it’s going to end. I have I to keep doing it. The great thing about is that I really enjoy.”
Mutombo enrolled at Georgetown and wanted to be a doctor. Instead, he played basketball and developed into a Hall of Famer, one of the best defenders of any era. He was a four-time defensive player of the year and eight-time All-Star.
He was also a two-time recipient of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship award given to the player who shows outstanding service and dedication to a community.
Mutombo used basketball to create a legacy far more wide-ranging than becoming a doctor. He is passionate and determined to make Congo a better place to live.
When Mutombo attends health conferences, he searches for medical groups who will come to Congo and help. Maybe search isn’t the right word.
“When you see me, just be ready, because if you’re doing something good, I’m going to push you inside the car and go to Congo,” Mutombo said. “That’s me. Every time I go to a conference, my team knows Mr. Mutombo is coming back with more projects, more missions.
“I just want to make a difference. I want to help people. I want to contribute, and I think I’m in the right place to do that. God gave me height, gave me a voice, blessed me with the gift of talent of playing the game of basketball, which made me recognized all over the world. I’m using that gift that God gave to me.”
He has big plans for that high school. He wants to build it in his hometown and name it after his father, Samuel, who was a lifelong educator. He wants visiting professors to teach students. He wants to connect the school to the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Preventions.
“We need to find a way to lead our children to science,” he said. “The only way to do it is build a place where they can study and accumulate that knowledge.”
Other Awards & Honors
- Goodemote Humanitarian Award – the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health – 2011
- Big Brothers Big Sisters NYC – Achievement in Public Service Award – 2011
- Steve Patterson Award for Excellence in Sports Philanthropy by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation – 2010
President Obama honored Mutombo as he was awarded the John Thompson Jr. Legacy of a Dream Award – 2010
Dikembe Mutombo and Bruce Springsteen honored by the Ellis Island Family Heritage Foundation Award – 2010
- Miracle Corners of the World Award – 2010
- Laureus World Sports for Good Award – 2010
- Mutombo made NBA’s first Global Ambassador – 2009
- J. Walker Kennedy Citizenship Award – 2009
- USA Weekend Magazine – Most Caring Athlete Award – 2009
- William F. Ryan Community Health Network Honors – 2008
- Inducted into the Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame – 2007
- President George W. Bush in his State of the Union Address recognizes Dikembe Mutombo – January 2007
- Awarded the Jackie Robinson Humanitarian Award from the United States Sports Academy. At the presentation, Mutombo received the Academy’s Order of the Eagle Exemplar
- Awarded first African-American Legacy Council Creed Medal. The award honors Courtlandt Van Rensselaer Creed, the first African-American graduate of the Yale School of Medicine.
- ABC’s Person of the Week
- Essence Magazine’s 2001 Achiever
- Sporting News’ No. 1 Good Guy
- Trailblazer Award – The Constituency for Africa
- The J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award
- The Ernie Davis Humanitarian Award
- The Samuel J. Halsey Award
- First Youth Emissary for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP)
- World Economic Forum – Young Global Leader
- Wilt Chamberlain Award – Operation Smile
- Honorary Degree, Doctor of Humane Letters – State University of New York College at Cortland
- NAACP Phoenix Award
- The Henry Iba Citizen Athlete Award
- The President’s Service Award (2000)
- Board member – The George Washington University Africa Center for Health and Security.
- Mutombo has been featured in Europe’s TIME magazine, Sports Illustrated for Kids, the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Delta Sky Magazine and the Houston Chronicle.
- Mutombo also served on the Advisory Board for the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health.
- Chairman and President of the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation since 1997.