NBA Hall of Fame Player Diagnosed with Brain Tumor in Unexpectedly Tragic News

Former basketball player and Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo has a brain tumor and is undergoing treatment, the NBA announced Saturday.

Born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1966, the 7-foot-2 Mutombo went on to become a well-loved player whose professional career spanned from 1991 to 2009.

Mutombo came to the U.S. in 1987 to attend Georgetown University, which gave him an academic scholarship, CNN reported.

He joined the school’s basketball team during his sophomore year.

In 1991, he was drafted by the Denver Nuggets in the fourth round of the NBA draft.

During his 18-season career, Mutombo also played for the Atlanta Hawks, the Philadelphia 76ers, the New Jersey  Nets, the New York Knicks and the Houston Rockets, according to Basketball Reference.

He is considered by many to be one of the best blockers in the history of the game and even joked that it took Michael Jordan seven years to dunk on him, which he finally did in the 1997 playoffs, Sportskeeda reported.

“I made him mad. I told him, ‘Michael, you’re lucky to be able to dunk on many people, but you’re not going to get me.’ And Michael didn’t like that. It took Michael seven years. This guy was one of the most dominant basketball players to ever play the game, but he could not climb Mount Mutombo,” he once said, reflecting on the event, according to Sportskeeda.

Mutombo was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015 and also spent time after his career acting as a global ambassador for the NBA, Heavy.com reported.

Mutombo also spent years dedicating his time to the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, which works to improve conditions of life and learning in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, CNN reported.

The NBA announced Saturday that the 56-year-old Mutombo and his family are asking for privacy as he goes through treatment for the tumor, the New York Post reported.

“He is receiving the best care possible from a collaborative team of specialists in Atlanta and is in great spirits as he begins treatment,” the NBA said in a statement.

“Dikembe and his family ask for privacy during this time so they can focus on his care. They are grateful for your prayers and good wishes,” the statement added.

The NBA Commissioner Adam Silver also offered his sympathies in a statement to CNN.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Dikembe, one of the world’s great humanitarians,” Silver said.

Many on social media are also offering prayers and sympathy for Mutombo and his family as they undergo this ordeal.

The Atlanta Hawks tweeted sympathies.

“On behalf of Principal Owner Tony Ressler: The Atlanta Hawks organization extends best wishes to Dikembe Mutombo for a full recovery as he begins treatment for a brain tumor,” the official team account tweeted. “We know he will approach this challenge with the same determination and grit that have made him a legend on and off the court. Our thoughts, prayers and support are with Dikembe, Rose and their entire family.”

“Let’s pray for my friend and brother Basketball Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo who is undergoing treatment in Atlanta for a brain tumor, the NBA announced Saturday,” Roger Muntu, an international broadcaster and journalist with Voice of America tweeted.

Mutombo himself has not made any public comments on his diagnosis or treatment.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.