For those of us that live and breathe sports, legacy means championship rings and championship banners. Legacy means record books and retired jersey numbers.
While this Suns team looks to create their legacy on the court, Bismack Biyombo’s legacy off the court has already begun.
On Friday, Biyombo publically announced that he is donating the entirety of his 2021-2022 salary, a figure of about $1.36 million according to Spotrac, towards building a hospital in his home nation, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The project will be overseen by the Bismack Biyombo Foundation, which he had started with his late father, François, back in 2016.
“Hopefully, we can save as many lives as we can. I know he couldn’t be here to witness that, but I’m sure he’s happy on the other side that I get to do something from this,” Biyombo said after practice on Saturday. “[It’s the] least I could do for him, after all [that] he has done for me, for my brothers, my sisters and so many people back home that he has helped.”
As Bismack explained to Andscape’s Marc Spears last month, François had contracted COVID-19 back in July 2021 and Bismack flew home to take care of his ailing father. While he did recover from COVID-19, François Biyombo passed away later in August at the age of 61.
“My dad was my first believer,” Biyombo said. “He spent his own money to allow me to perhaps follow my dreams and paid money out of his own pocket because he just believed that I could make it.”
The loss of his father was difficult for Bismack, as he sat out of the 2021 NBA offseason and did not sign a new contract ahead of the 2021-2022 season.
“I was kind of away from the game, trying to figure out what could motivate me to play for something bigger than just myself,” Biyombo said.
But when he did decide to return to basketball and join the Phoenix Suns, the 29-year-old returned with one thing on his mind: to dedicate this season to his father.
“This decision, I made it back in November - and this [was] before I even get back to play,” Biyombo said.
“This is the best way I [think] that this year will be meaningful to me. It’s not just the desire to go for a championship, but also the desire to save lives. And at the end of this season, I really want to be able to look back and say, I dedicated this season to my dad.”
The Bismack Biyombo Foundation has already done tremendous work in the DRC, providing hundreds of children with scholarships and setting up academies in Kinshasa, Kivu, and Lubumbashi, where Biyombo was born and raised. Additionally, the foundation has refurbished hospitals in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi, as well as running a mobile clinic in Goma.
But as his newest project illustrates, Biyombo understands that he has the opportunity to do even more.
“I understand how important it is for me to be in this position, and I understand that there’s an opportunity to do something, and I don’t want to waste it,” Biyombo said.
“We have to take this opportunity, otherwise we will be looking for the next generation to do so, [and] they’re going to look for the next generation, so on and on. But if we can set a good example for the next generation, I think when they come in they would do better than we are doing.”
To learn more or to donate to The Bismack Biyombo Foundation, please go to www.biyombofoundation.org.