Former Rocket Dikembe Mutombo was named the recipient of the Sager Strong Award tonight at the 2nd Annual NBA Awards.
Named for the legendary NBA broadcaster, the award is presented annually to an individual who has been a trailblazer while exemplifying courage, faith, compassion and grace. The award is bestowed upon the recipient in the form of a colorful suit jacket, a replica of the one worn by Sager during his unforgettable “Time is simply how you live your life” speech in 2016.
One of basketball’s most respected defensive players and rebounders, Mutombo is also well regarded beyond the game for his humanitarian work around the world. Two decades ago he created the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, dedicated to improving the health, education and quality of life for the people of his native Democratic Republic of the Congo. Among the many achievements for DMF, the organization opened the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital in 2007, and since, the facility has treated nearly a quarter million patients.
In 2009, Mutombo was named a global ambassador for the NBA by NBA Commissioner Emeritus David Stern.
The basketball Hall of Famer originally came to the United States in 1987 on an academic scholarship to Georgetown. Later, the school’s legendary coach John Thompson invited him to try out for the basketball team. Eventually, he would be a first round NBA Draft pick in 1991, and go on to play 19 years in the NBA before retiring in 2009.