Mourning was born in Chesapeake, Virginia and played college basketball for Georgetown University In 1992 he was selected second overall in the NBA draft by the Charlotte Hornets. After three years in Charlotte, he was traded to Miami, where he played for the Heat for the next seven seasons. As a free agent in 2003 he signed a four-year contract with the New Jersey Nets.
On November 25, 2003 Mourning retired from the NBA due to complications from focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, a disease of the kidneys. On December 19th of that year he underwent a successful kidney transplant.