When you work from your living room, you tend to see the same TV commercials. Or, in Geico’s case, 40 simultaneous commercials starring pigs, cavemen, film-noir detectives, Eddie Money, witches, and a lizard so annoying I want to drop-kick him to the Space Station.
But the one Geico spot that always makes me laugh features 7-2 former NBA center Dikembe Mutombo, considered one of the greatest shot blockers of all time and today a champion for charity causes. You’ll see him in the ads slapping down paper wads, cereal boxes, and laundry with his characteristic finger wag and catchphrases, “No, no, no, not today! Not in my house!”
But Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo has many real-life reasons to be happy. The Congolese native attended Georgetown University on a USAID scholarship, barely speaking English (he now speaks English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and five more.) He intended to become a doctor, but coach John Thomspon recruited Mutombo as a center, where he excelled. He graduated with degrees in linguistics and diplomacy, even serving internships with Congress and the World Bank.
Mutombo went on to play for six NBA teams, most notably the Houston Rockets. He won NBA Defensive Player of the Year four times.
Today his humanitarian work is almost unparalleled, as he works for polio and malaria causes and the Special Olympics. He was the founder behind Kinshasa, Congo’s Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital, named for Mutombo’s late mother.
Mutombo and his wife Rose have six children; four are adopted.