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Dikembe Mutombo - Growing Up In Africa

Famous Sports StarsBasketballDikembe Mutombo Biography - Growing Up In Africa, Develops Basketball Skills, Defensive Genius, Philanthropic Efforts, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments - CONTACT INFORMATION

Growing Up in Africa

Dikembe Mutombo, whose full name is Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean Jacque Wamutombo, was born on June 25, 1966, in Kinshasa, Congo (formerly known as Zaire). Mutombo grew up in a six-bedroom home in a comfortable neighborhood with his four brothers and two sisters. As members of the Luba tribe, Mutombo's family belonged to Zaire's upper class. His father, who was educated at the Sorbonne in France, was the director of the city's high schools. Kinshasa, the capital city of 2.5 million, had a very high poverty and crime rate, and Mutombo's parents raised their children in a strict environment that stressed education, respect, and faith.

Growing to nearly seven feet tall during his high school years, Mutombo gave little consideration to playing basketball. He excelled as a soccer goalie and also practiced martial arts. Finally his father insisted that Mutombo try basketball, which the teenager did with reluctance.

Dikembe Mutombo

However, after cracking his chin on the concrete court during his first practice, leaving him with a still-visible scar, Mutombo was ready more than ever to quit. Only after losing an intense argument with his parents did Mutombo return to the court. Later, he would heap praise on his parents for insisting that they knew what was best for their son.

Overcoming his initial awkwardness on the court, Mutombo was soon playing for the Zaire national team with his brother Ilo. For two years Mutombo traveled with the national team and learned the game. He came to the attention of a U.S. Embassy employee while he was reading the newspapers posted in the windows of the embassy. Herman Henning, a former coach, introduced Mutombo to John Thompson, the coach of the Georgetown University Hoyas. Soon, Mutombo was on his way to Washington, D.C.

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