Basketball star Bol buried in south Sudan

Mon Jul 5, 2010 6:06am GMT

By El Tayeb Siddig

TURALEI, Sudan (Reuters) - Basketball star Manute Bol was buried in his family's home town in south Sudan on Sunday and hundreds of mourners paid tribute to the man whose talent took him from the grazing lands of Africa to NBA fame.

Sudan-born Bol, a phenomenon through 10 NBA seasons thanks to his 7-foot, 7-inch (2.31-metre) frame and ability to block opponents' shots, died in a U.S. hospital on June 19 aged 47.

Bol herded his family's cattle in south Sudan as a boy and was spotted playing basketball in Khartoum by a visiting U.S. coach. After his NBA career he continued to focus his time and wealth on humanitarian work in his underdeveloped homeland.

The charity he worked with building schools said the cause of death was kidney failure and a painful skin disease, Stevens- Johnson syndrome, which worsened after his last trip to Sudan during the country's April elections.

A plane carrying Bol's body arrived in south Sudan's capital Juba on Saturday. On Sunday, members of his extended family and local politicians accompanied Bol's remains on a two-hour plane ride and four-hour road trek to Turalei, his remote home town in the region's Warrap state.

"There are lots of family here, lots of people who loved him very much ... He gave his life for south Sudan," Bol's wife Ajok Deng told Reuters before the burial.

"We are here because he told me 'I want to be buried next to my grandfather'. We're here to go according to his will."

His wife said she was planning to stay in Sudan for a few days with their three sons and one daughter before returning to their U.S. home in Olathe, Kansas.   Continued...

<p>Members of Sudan-born NBA star Manute Bol's family and locals lower his casket into the ground during his funeral in the town of Turalei in Warap state, southern Sudan, July 4, 2010. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah</p>
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