Mbenga brings energy and has a lot of fun on the court. But he came from a dark and saddened past to get to where he is today. Take a read.
O.C. Register: Kobe Bryant just calls him “Congo.” Pau Gasol thinks he’s funny but isn’t sure what else to think of him. Josh Powell, who has been teammates with him here and in Dallas, is asked if he knows — really knows — DJ Mbenga.
“I would say,” Powell answers, “somewhat.”
Poised mostly in silence, near the end of the Lakers’ bench, sits what could be the Lakers’ loudest story. Yet, Mbenga, a member of one of the most microscopically analyzed teams in the NBA, one of the most blogged about groups in all of sports, remains largely unknown.
Even his name is a bit of a mystery, Didier Ilunga-Mbenga referred to as DJ in some places and D.J. — with periods — in others.
You could start his story at Day One, Mbenga born in Zaire into a family with money and clout. “That movie ‘Coming to America,’ it was like that,” he says. “I was living like that.”