Manute Bol was the first African-born player drafted into the NBA and, at seven foot seven inches, the tallest. In the 1980s and 90s he was also among the league’s most fearsome shot-blockers and its most beloved figures. Off the basketball court, however, Bol’s story was more remarkable than most fans ever knew. Activist, gambler, joker, rebel—Bol was a complex man whose fate was inextricably bound with that of the South Sudan, his homeland. On the eve of that new nation’s independence, writer Jordan Conn traveled to the Sudan to explore Bol’s remarkable path from Africa to the NBA, his rise to stardom and fall into obscurity, and his final role as a renowned humanitarian and hero to his people. Conn’s account is a funny and moving portrait of a man who lived a life befitting his outsized body.