Former NBA Player Manute Bol May Have Played at 50 Years Old

November 22, 2017 Updated: November 22, 2017

Manute Bol’s former coach said that he made up his age and he could have been playing in the NBA at 50 years old.

Kevin Mackey said he gave Bol a birthday because the team didn’t know how old he was.

Bol, born in Sudan to a Dinka tribal elder, was listed at 7 ft 7 inches tall, and he was the tallest player in NBA history along with Romanian Gheorghe Muresan—the tallest man in the European Union.

His date of birth wasn’t recorded, but college basketball coach Kevin Mackey listed Bol’s birthday as October 16, 1962.

According to CBS Sports, Mackey said that Bol could have been in his 40s or even 50 years old. Bol stated that he had no idea how old he was.

“I gave him his birthday because they didn’t know how old he was,” Mackey said. “Every athletic door is open at 19, every athletic door is closed when you’re 35,” said Mackey, 71. “He was probably 40, 50 years old when he was playing in the NBA.”

“[Bol] had no idea of his age and the kid who came over with him didn’t know how old he was,” Mackey said. “No one knew how old he was.”

“The immigration people were in the office [at Cleveland State] and they thought it was great. They loved it. And they were big fans of Cleveland State, they used to come to all our games. They wanted to cover themselves because Manute was starting to get so much publicity. His picture was in the paper. He was on the 6 o’clock news because he was a such a different looking guy than everyone else. At that time, no one had ever seen anything like it.”

“It was in October, I wanted to make it after Sept. 1,” Mackey added of the made-up birth date. “I wanted to make sure he was young enough because he didn’t have an age. I think he was [in his 40s], I really do. But there’s no way of ever really knowing.”

Bol said that his family members are exceptionally tall.

“My mother was 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m), my father 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m), and my sister is 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m),” he once said. “And my great-grandfather was even taller—7 ft 10 in (2.39 m).”

When he arrived in the United States, Bol was quite slim, only weighing 180 pounds.

Bol died in June 2010 from acute kidney failure and Stevens–Johnson syndrome.