Legendary NBA star and Hall-of-Famer Dikembe Mutombo has started to undergo treatment for a tumor that doctors found in his brain recently.
The National Basketball Association issued a statement on his behalf:
“NBA Global Ambassador and Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo is currently undergoing treatment for a brain tumor,” starts the statement.
“Dikembe and his family ask for privacy during this time so they can focus on his care,” the league went on to say. “They are grateful for your prayers and good wishes.”
Mutombo, in his years after basketball, has been known as the fun-loving “Not in My House” commercial guy.
Standing 7ft 2in (2.18m) tall, Mutombo was discovered when he was studying at Georgetown University. He became the first-round pick of the Nuggets in the 1991 NBA draft, going fourth overall.
Mutombo, 56, played 18 NBA seasons for the Denver Nuggets, Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks and Houston Rockets before retiring after the 2008-09 season.
He was the league’s top defensive player four times, earned three All-NBA selections and played in eight All-Star Games over 18 seasons. Mutombo ranks 17th in rebounds (12,359) and finished with 3,289 career blocks, second to Hakeem Olajuwon (3,830). Mutombo followed most blocks with a playful wag of his right index finger, a gesture that became his enduring signature.
Brain Tumor Symptoms
How does someone know if they might have a brain tumor or not? Were there symptoms that Mutombo experienced that prompted him to go see a doctor?
According to the Mayo Clinic, a brain tumor is a mass or growth of abnormal cells in your brain.
The signs and symptoms of a brain tumor vary greatly and depend on the brain tumor’s size, location and rate of growth.
General signs and symptoms caused by brain tumors may include:
- New onset or change in pattern of headaches
- Headaches that gradually become more frequent and more severe
- Unexplained nausea or vomiting
- Vision problems, such as blurred vision, double vision or loss of peripheral vision
- Gradual loss of sensation or movement in an arm or a leg
- Difficulty with balance
- Speech difficulties
- Feeling very tired
- Confusion in everyday matters
- Difficulty making decisions
- Inability to follow simple commands
- Personality or behavior changes
- Seizures, especially in someone who doesn’t have a history of seizures
- Hearing problems
Many different types of brain tumors exist. Some brain tumors are noncancerous (benign), and some brain tumors are cancerous (malignant). Brain tumors can begin in your brain (primary brain tumors), or cancer can begin in other parts of your body and spread to your brain as secondary (metastatic) brain tumors.
In addition to his sports achievements, Mutombo has worked extensively for charitable and humanitarian causes. He has served as an ambassador for the sport, particularly in the development of the Basketball Africa League, which completed its second season in May. Additionally, Mutombo was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015.
In 1997, two years before retiring from the NBA, Mutombo established the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation with a mission to improve education and quality of life in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His foundation led the building of a 170-bed hospital in Kinshasa, the capital city, and that facility has treated nearly a half-million people regardless of their ability to pay for care.
Mutombo also speaks nine languages and also has served on the boards of many organizations. Some of those include Special Olympics International, the CDC Foundation and the National Board for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.