Basketball Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo is undergoing treatment for a brain tumor in Atlanta, the NBA announced Saturday.
Mutombo has been one of the NBA’s global ambassadors for years, and recently appeared at Hall of Fame enshrinement events in Springfield, Massachusetts, and a pair of preseason games in Saitama, Japan.
He also appeared with US Secretary of State Anthony Blanken at an event in Mutombo’s native Congo in August.
“He is receiving the best care possible from a collaborative team of specialists in Atlanta and is very encouraging as he begins treatment,” Mutombo’s family said in a statement distributed by the NBA. It’s good.” “Dikembe and his family request privacy during this time so they can focus on his care. They are grateful for your prayers and well wishes.”
The family did not release any other details, including what caused the tumor to be discovered.
“We know he will take on this challenge with the same determination and grit that has made him a legend on and off the court,” Atlanta Hawks Principal Owner Tony Ressler said.
Mutombo, 56, spent 18 seasons in the NBA, playing for Denver, Atlanta, Houston, Philadelphia, New York and the then-New Jersey Nets. The 7-foot-2 center out of Georgetown was an eight-time All-Star, four-time Defensive Player of the Year, three-time All-NBA selection and went into the Hall of Fame in 2015 after averaging 9.8 points and 10.3. Rebounds per game for his career.
Mutombo last played in the 2008-09 season and has since done extensive work for charity and humanitarian causes. Blanken praised her when the pair were together in the Congo, telling Mutombo that “you’ve done so much to bring the world together.”
Mutombo speaks nine languages and in 1997 founded the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, which focuses on improving health, education and quality of life for people in the Congo. His foundation led the construction of a 170-bed hospital in the capital, Kinshasa, and the facility has treated nearly half a million people regardless of their ability to pay for care.
He has also served on the boards of several organizations, including Special Olympics International, the CDC Foundation, and the National Board of the US Fund for UNICEF.
Mutombo had cameos in films including Coming 2 America And Like MikeIn addition to appearing in advertising campaigns for GEICO and Mobil 1.