Former NBA Star & Global Philanthropist Luol Deng ’03 Opened 2020-2021 Skeptics Series
Luol Deng

Having fled war-torn South Sudan with his family in 1990, Luol Deng ’03 entered Blair Academy nine years later as a freshman from the United Kingdom and went on to a storied basketball career that took him to the highest echelons of the sport. Today, the former two-time NBA All-Star is a global philanthropist and leader of the Luol Deng Foundation, a nonprofit he founded in 2005 that uses basketball and education as tools to give hope to all South Sudanese in Africa and around the world.  

Mr. Deng joined the Blair community virtually to discuss “Global Philanthropy” on September 8 at the opening presentation of the 2020-2021 Society of Skeptics.

To view his presentation, please click below:


At Blair, Mr. Deng ran track and played four years of varsity basketball, serving as basketball team captain and earning accolades for athletics, sportsmanship and contributions to the life of the School. He was selected to the 2003 McDonald’s and Parade magazine all-American basketball teams, and as a senior, he was ranked second (behind LeBron James) of the 100 top high school basketball players by a host of publications.

Mr. Deng committed to Duke University, where he played for the Blue Devils for one season (2003-2004). During that year, he scored an average of more than 15 points per game; led all Atlantic Coast Conference freshmen in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage; received recognition as the NCAA Atlanta region’s Most Outstanding Player; and played in the NCAA Final Four. He entered the NBA draft in 2004 and was selected seventh overall by the Chicago Bulls.

During his illustrious 15-year NBA career, Mr. Deng played for the Chicago Bulls (2004-2014), Cleveland Cavaliers (2014), Miami Heat (2014-2016), Los Angeles Lakers (2016-2018) and Minnesota Timberwolves (2018-2019). Among many highlights on the court, he made consecutive appearances in the NBA All-Star game in 2011 and 2012, and he played for Great Britain in the 2012 London Olympic Games. Mr. Deng signed a commemorative one-day contract with the Chicago Bulls in 2019 and formally retired as a Bull and the team’s fourth all-time leading scorer on November 20. 

Throughout his time in the NBA, Mr. Deng devoted himself to his philanthropic work, determined to give back for the opportunities he had been provided. He was recognized for this work and his dedication to human rights with the NBA’s Joe Dumars Trophy sportsmanship award (2006), the Midwest Light of Human Rights Award (2010) and the NBA’s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award (2014). 

Today, the Luol Deng Foundation works in South Sudan, the United Kingdom and the United States, focusing specific efforts in each nation. In South Sudan, its work includes building basketball courts, rebuilding schools, providing emergency relief and collaborating with local and international organizations who “reach the unreachable.” Its efforts in the UK help to provide opportunities for participation in basketball for all sections of the community through camps, clinics, events, and coaching and club development. Finally, in the U.S., the foundation works to unify the country’s South Sudanese community through impactful workshops, a variety of events and a weeklong basketball camp for future NBA hopefuls. 

The Society of Skeptics was established as a forum for students and faculty to discuss and debate important global issues; it has grown to become one of the premier high school lecture series in the United States. Each week, speakers from the political, social, scientific, economic and literary arenas share their unique perspectives with students, who are encouraged to engage with presenters, asking questions and debating points of view.

The program, which is funded in part by The Class of 1968 Society of Skeptics Endowment Fund, was an outgrowth of the Blair International Society, begun in 1937. Forty years later, former history department chair Elliott Trommald, PhD, Hon. ’65, established the modern Skeptics program as a regular forum for student discussion and debate; history teacher Martin Miller, PhD, took over in the mid-1980s and molded the program into a weekly lecture series, one that has since continued without interruption. Under the tutelage of Dr. Miller and his successor, history department chair Jason Beck, Skeptics has featured a wide variety of speakers who are engaging, accomplished in their respective fields and often controversial. For a listing of upcoming Skeptics programs, please click here.

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Curran Family

Dear Blair Family, 

I write to you today about the end of one chapter in Blair’s history and an exciting new beginning. After more than seven years at Blair, Chris Fortunato has decided to return with his family to New England, where he will lead Thayer Academy, a day school outside of Boston. We are most grateful to Chris for his excellent leadership and many contributions over the course of his tenure and wish him and his family well. As we now look to Blair’s future, I am thrilled to announce that our Board of Trustees unanimously voted to appoint Associate Head of School and Dean of Admission Peter G. Curran as Blair’s 17th Head of School, effective January 1, 2021.

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