Dikembe Mutombo came to the United States in 1987 with the intention of becoming a doctor. With a United States Agency for International Development scholarship, he enrolled at Georgetown as a premed major.

Hoyas coach John Thompson convinced him to try the hardwood in Mutombo's second year at school. He evolved into an All-Big East player, switched from premed to linguistics and diplomacy and became the fourth overall pick in the 1991 NBA Draft. After 18 seasons, he made the Hall of Fame, and his 3,256 career blocks are second in NBA history.

He also became a naturalized American citizen, as President George W. Bush mentioned in his 2007 State of the Union Address. Today, Mutombo spends most of his time in Atlanta and New York. Roughly equidistant between the two cities is Charlottesville where a rally of white supremacists last weekend turned violent and resulted in the death of a 32-year-old woman and injuries to at least 19 others.

"Very disappointed, very sad," Mutombo says. "This great nation of the United States ... great people fought so hard to see the United States become a free nation. It's too bad to see those people who continue to live with an evil spirit. They're talking, they want to go back. I don't know, they want to go back when? They want to go back to when we didn't have the electricity in the house? When we didn't have no running water? When everybody was living in the bushes? What are they talking about, they want to take America back? It's very sad."


Mutombo expresses particular remorse with Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, the woman struck and killed by a car that plowed through the Charlottesville crowd.

"To see that wonderful lady, who lost her life, to see her mother, who's crying on TV," Mutombo says. "They say you want to have your children, so one day when you cannot walk no more, you can extend your hands to your children, so your children can help you and carry you all the way to your final journey, but it's so sad that we have to see this wonderful mom as old as she crying. That wonderful woman, who would've taken her to her final journey and look after her, she's no longer there. I think about it a lot because I know, I lost my mother."

Mutombo's mother, Biamba Marie, passed away of a stroke in 1997. The Dikembe Mutombo Foundation opened a $29 million, 300-bed hospital in Kinshasa -- the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo -- in 2007, and it is named after Biamba Marie.

Mutombo still makes regular trips back to Africa, most recently traveling to Johannesburg for the NBA Africa Game on Aug. 5. But physically being in the U.S. post-Charlottesville, Mutombo explains how he can do his part to improve America.

"Show my love, show my appreciation, continue to hug everybody I know, those I don't know, people I see and continue to smile, be friendly," Mutombo says. "It's a beautiful nation. Some of us who came here 30-something years ago, we got a chance to enjoy the fruit of this nation. America did so much for me. They gave me the chance to go to college, to have an American government scholarship, to prosper the way I prospered and I got a chance to play in this beautiful league of the basketball in the NBA and to play with so many great teammates, so I want the nation to continue the way it's going.

"We're not going to let those things, that bigotry, destroy us, stop us from raising our children the way we are raising them."


Mutombo spoke to ThePostGame on Tuesday, on behalf of Mobil 1 Annual Protection, the official motor oil of the NBA. He appeared in New York City with NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick to promote the brand's "The Drive" campaign.

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