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NBA Hall of Famer and former Denver Nuggets star Dikembe Mutombo fighting brain tumor

Former Nuggets star Dikembe Mutombo fighting brain tumor
Former Nuggets star Dikembe Mutombo fighting brain tumor 00:25

The NBA released a statement late Saturday morning announcing former Denver Nuggets center and NBA Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo is beginning treatment for a brain tumor.

Denver Nuggets v Washington Bullets
Dikembe Mutombo of the Denver Nuggets in action in 1991 Focus On Sport / Getty Images

Per the statement, Mutombo is in "great spirits" as he begins treatment in Atlanta. 

The statement did not mention more about the type of tumor or Mutombo's prognosis. 

Mutombo was taken fourth overall by the Nuggets in the 1991 NBA Draft. The 7-foot-2 center attended Georgetown University and immediately made an impact, making the leagues All-Rookie Team that year. 

Inductee Dikembe Mutombo speaks during the 2015 Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony on September 11, 2015 at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Mutombo spent five years playing in Denver (91-96), most notably helping the Nuggets become the first No.8 seed to upset a No.1 when the team defeated the Seattle Supersonics during the 1993-94 playoffs. Video of Mutombo lying on the court and clutching the ball in joy became an iconic image of the moment. 

Mutombo went on to play with the Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks and Houston Rockets before retiring at the end of the 2008-9 season.

Mutombo blocked 3,289 shots over his NBA career and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015. Twice during his career, Mutombo was recognized by the league with the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, an honor bestowed to players, coaches or trainers who show outstanding service and dedication to the community.

RELATED: Dikembe Mutombo 'welcomed home' while promoting 'Hoops For Troops' in Denver

Mutombo's No.55 jersey still hangs from the rafters of Ball Arena where it was unveiled in 2016. 

Mutombo became known for his contributions to his native people and country in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Last year, Mutombo and several other former NBA players joined high-profile investors to launch "NBA Africa." He also started the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation in the Congo in 1997. Its goal is to improve health, education and quality of life in the African country.

He also serves on the board of Special Olympics International, the CDC Foundation and the National Board for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, according to the Associated Press.

In Saturday's statement, the NBA stated the Mutombo asked for privacy and expressed gratitude for prayers and good wishes. 

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