The former South African president Nelson Mandela died at the age of 95, following long illness on Dec. 5. Mandela was taken to hospital on June 8 for lung infection. His lung troubles date back to the 27 years he spent in prison.
The reaction towards his death was huge. The NBA issued an official statement, and former NBA players weren’t all quiet either.
Many have expressed their thoughts on Mandela’s passing. Some of NBA’s greatest players have met Mandela personally, including Detroit Pistons legend Isiah Thomas, defensive specialist Dikembe Mutombo and 7’7 Shawn Bradley. Others, like Charles Barkley expressed regret for never meeting Mandela.
“I thank God for giving me a chance to meet a great Leader and man of Faith. Miss you Madiba,” Mutombo said on Twitter.
“Nelson Mandela was a great man. A bright light has gone out. His ability to lead & inspire are unparalleled in my lifetime,” said leading scorer in NBA history, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Retired NBA All-Star Grant Hill said that Mandela’s life was “full”, as he was able to transform not only South Africa but the entire world.
“The thing that sticks out in my mind about him is that he went to jail for 27 years and he comes out a better person and a better leader,” Hill said. “He has compassion for his jailers and was able to make a significant difference in South Africa. He’s an example that we should all aspire to live by. It’s a sad day but a day to celebrate him.”
Charles Barkley said that Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Muhammad Ali are three of the greatest men that have ever lived.
“They were people that I wanted to meet and I only got to meet one of them [Ali]. I’ll regret never getting to meet Mr. Mandela,” Barkley said. “The thing that amazes me about him the most is that I can’t believe how forgiving he was. We get so mad and angry at people over silly stuff all the time. For him to have compassion for his jailers and not harbor any animosity…words don’t do it justice.”
Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first Black president in the country’s first multi-racial elections in 1994. He is called Africa’s elder statesman and is revered across the world for his role in ending apartheid in his homeland.
The former South African president has received more than 250 awards over four decades, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize. In recent years, Mandela’s health problems have worried his supporters.
We’ve gathered some photos of Nelson Mandela with former NBA players, which include Shawn Bradley, Bob Lanier, Dikembe Mutombo, Alex English, Isiah Thomas. Check it out (*photos can be shared on Pinterest, roll mouse over a pic to share).
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