The Congolese NBA Veteran Whose Heart, And Generosity, Never Left Home

He may have made it to the NBA a decade ago, but Bismack Biyombo’s heart never left home. Biyombo hails from the Democratic Republic of Congo, a nation rich in natural resources like cobalt and copper, but still plagued by extreme poverty. More than 70% of the Congolese population, or around 60 million people, live on less than $1.90 a day.

© Mary Beth Koeth for TIME

“I’ve seen so much suffering from our people,” says Biyombo, a 6 ft. 8 in. center who has played in Charlotte, Toronto and Orlando, and was a free agent going into the 2021–2022 season. “Every day, you go home, you go back in your room, you’re by yourself, crying. You’re trying to find an explanation to certain things you don’t understand. Why? Why? Why? Then it gets to the point where, instead of the why, why, why, it’s time to take the action.”

Mary Beth Koeth for TIME © Mary Beth Koeth for TIME Mary Beth Koeth for TIME

Biyombo, 29, is doing just that. He has donated his own money and raised funds through the Bismack Biyombo Foundation to build schools and sports facilities, provide scholarships and improve health care in Congo. The foundation delivered around $1 million worth of medical supplies at the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, including 10,000 face masks and 780 hazmat suits.


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