In a league loaded with millionaires, Phoenix Suns center Bismack Biyombo is one in a million. The 11-year NBA veteran is giving up his entire salary this season — $1.3 million — to build a hospital in his home country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“When I’m set on something, nobody really, especially something like this, nobody’s changing my mind,” Biyombo told CBS News.
Biyombo has already established schools and basketball academies, but feels the most urgent need in his home country is healthcare. According to Biyombo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has only one doctor for every 10,000 people.
“Isn’t that crazy?” Biyombo said. “If your loved one is going to the hospital, they have a higher chance of dying than surviving. It really breaks my heart.”
His effort is also deeply personal. The Bismack Biyombo Foundation was co-founded by his father, Francois, in 2016. Last summer, Francois died of COVID-19 in the Congo. Biyombo says his dad instilled in him the value of public service.
“I wanted to do something for him that would continue to service people. But most important, save lives,” Biyombo said.
His work hasn’t gone unnoticed.
The NBA announced Tuesday that Biyombo is the winner of the March NBA Cares Community Assist Award “for his dedication to bettering the conditions and overall livelihoods of individuals and communities” in the Congo.
Jamie Yuccas is a CBS News correspondent based in Los Angeles.