Bol sustains broken neck in accident

Updated: July 2, 2004, 12:34 AM ET news services

COLCHESTER, Conn. -- Former NBA center Manute Bol was seriously injured in a highway accident Wednesday night, police said.

Bol, 43, was riding in a cab when it hit a guardrail and swerved across both lanes before hitting a rock ledge and rolling over, killing the driver and throwing the 7-foot-7-inch Bol from the car. Bol sustained a head injury and was taken by helicopter to Hartford Hospital, state police spokesman J. Paul Vance said.

"The doctor said, for his age, he's in extremely good shape and would probably be dead if he wasn't an athlete," longtime friend Andrew Kearns said.

Bol's condition was not released Thursday, but Kearns said Bol has a broken neck and is sedated.

"It's going to be a long recovery, unfortunately," Kearns said.

The accident occurred about 30 miles southeast of Bol's home in West Hartford.

Bol was a second-round draft pick of the Washington Bullets in 1985 after spending one year at the University of Bridgeport, a Division II school. He played 10 seasons in the NBA with the Bullets, Golden State and Philadelphia, retiring in 1995 after averaging 4.2 rebounds and 2.6 points per game during his career. He blocked more shots per minute than anyone in league history.

Bol was born in Turalie, a remote village in the southern part of Sudan. The region is the home of the Dinkas, the tallest people in the world. For a time, he was the tallest man ever to play in the NBA.

Many of his relatives were leaders in the Sudanese People's Liberation Army, the rebel movement. Since 1991, he has made several visits to refugee camps, where people greeted him as a king.

An important backer of the rebel movement, Bol contributed an estimated $3.5 million to Sudanese causes during his 10 years in the NBA. He begged for American intervention in Sudan and picketed the country's embassy.

In 2002, Bol signed with the Indianapolis Ice of the Central Hockey League to raise money for the people of his war-torn homeland. He never stepped on the ice.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.