NBA legend Dikembe Mutombo has been diagnosed with a brain tumor and is currently under medical treatment in Atlanta. According to ESPN, the 56-year-old Hall of Famer is reportedly in “great spirits” and focused on his recovery.
“Dikembe and his family ask for privacy during this time so they can focus on his care,” the NBA said in a statement. “They are grateful for your prayers and good wishes.”
Atlanta Hawks principal owner Tony Ressler referenced Mutombo’s toughness while expressing his belief in the gentle giant overcoming this battle using the same mettle he showed on the hardwood. “We know he will approach this challenge with the same determination and grit that have made him a legend on and off the court,” Ressler said.
Coming to prominence while playing college basketball for the Georgetown Hoyas, Mutombo was selected fourth overall by the Denver Nuggets in the 1991 NBA Draft. The imposing big man played 18 seasons in the league for six teams, including the Nuggets, Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks, and Houston Rockets.
Known for his defensive prowess and shot-blocking ability, Mutombo won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award four times during his career and was an eight-time All-Star. Retiring following the 2009 NBA Playoffs, Mutombo was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015.
In addition to his play on the court, Mutombo has been lauded for his work as a humanitarian, which dates back to his tenure in the league. In 1997, he founded the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, which led efforts to build the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital on the outskirts of his hometown, the Congolese capital of Kinshasa.