Bismack Biyombo’s off-court impact continues with donation for hospital

Mar 12, 2022, 3:12 PM | Updated: 4:20 pm

Bismack Biyombo #18 of the Phoenix Suns, stands for the American national anthem ahead of their NBA...

Bismack Biyombo #18 of the Phoenix Suns, stands for the American national anthem ahead of their NBA game against the Toronto Raptors at Scotiabank Arena on January 11, 2022 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)

(Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Bismack Biyombo couldn’t sleep.

The then-19-year-old had big-time expectations and goals for himself and his new team, the Charlotte Bobcats. In a lockout-shortened season, they went 7-59.

After struggling with how his first NBA season went, he woke up one morning with an urge to go back home to the Democratic Republic of Congo and run a basketball camp for kids.

Biyombo went out to buy 20-25 pairs of shoes for the kids, called his equipment manager to see if there was anything else he could take and called his brothers to track down 20-25 kids who wanted to be in the camp.

He packed six bags filled with shoes and his portable speaker.

“I said, ‘Look, I’m gonna be the DJ, I’m gonna be the coach, I’m just gonna have fun with these kids and imma give them a new pair of shoes, new t-shirts, shorts and all that stuff,'” Biyombo said Saturday.

Biyombo, now 29 and spending Year 11 of his NBA journey with the Phoenix Suns, knew how much this would mean to each kid because he was one of those kids. Biyombo had never received a new pair of shoes until he was 16, the time he left the country and then got the first fresh pair of kicks in his life.

Biyombo hosted the camp, finding so much joy in the little moments like some of the kids grabbing the shoes and then hiding them away later for the school year.

After seeing his parents and then going back to his hotel, he slept like a baby.

He woke up, talked to his parents again and started the idea of looking into giving back more often.

Biyombo spoke with sponsors and such, growing the camp to 100 kids the next year with gear provided by Nike. The camp even got to the point where they were giving out scholarships.

That was when Biyombo started the Bismack Biyombo Foundation in 2012. The purpose of the foundation is “to activate the human potential in the field of education, health and sport.”

The foundation is approaching a decade in and has now grown incredibly to have an impact that is difficult to fully grasp. They give out 185 scholarships each year, Biyombo is building his second school there and in 2019 he had 1,000 kids participate in his basketball and soccer clinics.

Through all of the foundation’s ventures to get Biyombo closer to his goal of having all Congolese able to access affordable health care, those efforts play a part in treating over 1,000 clinical patients each week.

That number is about to get a whole lot bigger. Biyombo announced on Friday he is donating the entirety of his salary with the Suns ($1.52 million) to build a hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo in memory of his late father, Francois, who passed in August.

Bismack’s experience seeing his father at a hospital in the D.R.C., where Francois stayed to help oversee the foundation, motivated him to give those people in the hospital better conditions. While Bismack was fortunate enough to be in a position to get his father into a better facility in Europe, he couldn’t stop thinking about the people who weren’t able to do that.

The foundation had already gone through efforts of refurbishing hospitals and clinics that Biyombo had thought was enough but now he’s going on a scale he hopes will help multiple generations even further.

“I could sit here and complain about all these things that goes on and on. My dad and I would always go back and forth like, ‘We are doers. We take actions rather than sit here and complain. We educate the next generation. We have to build a platform so that hopefully a decade from now we don’t have to complain so much about the things we couldn’t fix and the information we couldn’t pass on to the next generation,'” he said.

The hospital will fittingly be named after Biyombo’s father who was an extremely giving and gracious person.

Biyombo remembers the way his childhood home was, having three people per bed in the bedroom for the boys. Some nights they didn’t have enough food for everyone but Biyombo’s dad was always welcoming others in.

“I was always asking my dad, ‘We don’t have enough but you’re still welcoming other people?’ It just don’t make sense but it was like you cannot also abandon people,” Biyombo said Saturday. “Whatever we have, we have to share with others, so we were raised in that mentality of sharing with others and caring for others. So it was like second-nature to me when I got to the league.

“Thank God I’ve made money that my kids don’t have to worry, my family. But I also think I was put in this position. I understand how important it is for me to be put in this position and I understand there is an opportunity to do something and I don’t want to waste it because we can only live for so long. ”

For Biyombo’s arrival in Phoenix, this was the goal from the jump. After spending time away from basketball to mourn his father, the person Biyombo called his first believer, Biyombo told his agent he wanted to play. But it was only going to be for a team that was the right fit and the season he was going to dedicate to his dad would have his compensation for it fully donated to the construction of the hospital in Francois’ name.

Biyombo found the right team in Phoenix, a group with championship aspirations that works hard and loves basketball just as much as he does.

To go back to Bismack and Francois being doers, that’s part of this monumental service Bismack has put into helping others. Because it’s not just about that. It’s showing others what they could do in his position, establishing a precedent for what is possible.

“I think there are opportunities here to do it now. And I think with those ones that perhaps we’ve been waiting for, we have to take this opportunity,” he said. “Otherwise, we will be looking for the next generation to do so (and then) they’re gonna look for the next generation and on and on. But if we can set a good example for the next generation I think when they’re coming they will do better than we are doing now.”

Biyombo called NBA Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo his big brother, another person from the Democratic Republic of Congo who has also done countless amounts of humanitarian work for the country through his own foundation. Mutombo was someone Biyombo turned to so he could get in touch with the right people throughout his efforts to aid his people.

That is exactly the type of situation Biyombo is talking about. There is a gap in generations between the two but not with their intent to, quite simply, make the world a better place at such a high magnitude to take advantage of the position they are in.

Empire of the Suns

Yves Missi #21 of the Baylor Bears dunks against Robert Jones #12 of the Iowa State Cyclones during...

Kellan Olson

22 for 22: Should Yves Missi or Kel’el Ware be Suns’ NBA Draft center target?

The Phoenix Suns need a new skill set in the center rotation and both Yves Missi and Kel'el Ware provide one in different ways.

3 hours ago

Jared McCain #0 of the Duke Blue Devils controls the ball during the 1st half of the Sweet 16 round...

Kellan Olson

22 for 22: Best-case prospects to slip to Phoenix Suns in NBA Draft

As much as we can speak in guarantees, so sure about what prospects slot where in the NBA Draft, there is always a possibility guys fall.

1 day ago

Juan Nunez of Ratiopharm Ulm 
 challenges TJ Shorts II of Telekom Baskets Bonn during the easyCredi...

Kellan Olson

22 for 22: Juan Nunez is 2024 NBA Draft’s premium passer at PG

The wish list for the Phoenix Suns including a pure point guard would earn Spain's Juan Nunez some consideration in the NBA Draft.

2 days ago

Ajay Mitchell #13 of the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos drives the lane during the first half against the...

Kellan Olson

22 for 22: Should Suns target potential hidden gem like G Ajay Mitchell?

The Phoenix Suns should try to maximize value with this year's first-round pick and targeting a sleeper like Ajay Mitchell matches that.

3 days ago

Carlton Carrington #7 of the Pittsburgh Panthers shoots the ball against Armando Bacot #5 of the No...

Kellan Olson

22 for 22: Carlton Carrington would bring more 3s, scoring to Suns

The Suns need to improve their bench. There is particularly a lack of firepower among the group, which Carlton Carrington would add to.

4 days ago

Isaiah Collier #1 of the USC Trojans handles the ball against the Washington Huskies in the first h...

Kellan Olson

22 for 22: Isaiah Collier and a Suns’ argument for going best-player-available

If the Suns really do want to just grab not the best player available but the best prospect, the shortlist is topped by USC's Isaiah Collier.

5 days ago

Bismack Biyombo’s off-court impact continues with donation for hospital