By Mark Abrams

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Boxing great Muhammad Ali is to receive the Liberty Medal this evening during ceremonies at the National Constitution Center (see related story).

Earlier this afternoon, a forum highlighted athletes and sport and their contributions to social causes.

Among those on the panel was Dikembe Mutombo, the former NBA center who had two stints playing with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Mutombo (third from right in photo) praised Ali for being an example to him, especially when it came to giving back to others.  Mutombo’s foundation was responsible for erecting a hospital in his home country of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mutombo says there are millions of young men in Africa who have dreams of success, but cautions they need to be shown other career paths, too.

“So many of them want to play sports.  They want to play basketball to become like Hakeem Olajuwan, or Mutombo, or the late Manute Bol.  But who’s going to be the next president, or the next Supreme Court justice or the school principal?”

Mutombo adds that it’s good to play sports, but one day the ball will stop bouncing and the demands of citizenship guide one toward a higher calling.



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