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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Fast Facts

Here is a look at the life of philanthropist, best-selling author and NBA Hall of Fame center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.


Birth date: April 16, 1947

Birth place: New York, New York

Birth name: Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr.

Father: Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, transit police officer and jazz musician

Mother: Cora Alcindor, department store clerk

Marriage: Habiba Brown (May 28, 1971-1983, divorced)

Children: Mother’s name unavailable publicly: Adam; with Cheryl Pistono: Amir; with Habiba Brown: Kareem Jr., Habiba and Sultana

Education: University of California, Los Angeles, B.A. in history, 1969

Other Facts

Member of three UCLA Bruins national championship teams, 1967, 1968 and 1969.

Known for his “skyhook” shot, which he developed as a response to the NCAA ban on the dunk shot. It is a difficult shot to defend as the ball is released at the top of the arc.

After converting to Islam in 1971, he changed his name from Lew Alcindor Jr. to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. In Arabic, his name means a noble and powerful servant of Allah.

Wearing number 33, the seven-foot-two-inch center was selected to 19 NBA All-Star games during 20 seasons in the pros, five times with the Milwaukee Bucks and 14 times with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Won six NBA championships: once with the Milwaukee Bucks, in 1971, and five times with the Los Angeles Lakers, in 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988.

Won six NBA MVP awards: 1971, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1980.

Career NBA records include most field goals made: 15,837; most points: 38,387; and most minutes played: 57,446.

He has authored several biographical and cultural books, has written articles for various magazines and newspapers, and has appeared in numerous films and TV shows.

He studied under his friend, the late martial artist Bruce Lee, in the 1960s, and appeared with him in the film, “Game of Death,” in 1978.


1965-1969 – Plays basketball at the University of California at Los Angeles.

1967-1969 – Is named the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player when the Bruins win the national championship.

April 7, 1969 – Selected No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft by the Milwaukee Bucks.

1969-1975 – Plays center for the Milwaukee Bucks.

1970 – Is named NBA Rookie of the Year.

1975-1989 – Plays for the Los Angeles Lakers.

1980 – Appears as co-pilot Roger Murdock in the parody film, “Airplane!”

1983 – Fire destroys his home in Bel-Air, Los Angeles, including his large collection of jazz records.

April 5, 1984 – Surpasses Wilt Chamberlain as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

1989 – Retires at the end of the season, as the highest scoring player of all time.

1995 – Inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, in his first year of eligibility.

1999 – Assistant coach of the Alchesay high school basketball team on the White Mountain Apache Reservation in Whiteriver, Arizona, and writes a book about the experience in 2000: “A Season on the Reservation: My Sojourn with the White Mountain Apaches.”

February 2000-June 2000 – Assistant coach for the Los Angeles Clippers.

2002 – Head coach of the US Basketball League team, the Oklahoma Storm. Leads the team to its first USBL championship.

2004 – Works as a scout for the New York Knicks.

2005-2011 – Special assistant coach with the Los Angeles Lakers.

November 2009 – Reveals he was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the blood, in December 2008.

2009 – Founds the Skyhook Foundation to connect underprivileged youths with opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math.

2011 – Co-writes and produces the basketball documentary, “On the Shoulders of Giants.”

January 2012 – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announces Abdul-Jabbar as a global cultural ambassador.

April 16, 2015 – Undergoes quadruple coronary bypass surgery at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

November 3, 2015 – The documentary, “Kareem: Minority of One,” debuts on HBO.

July 28, 2016 – Abdul-Jabbar speaks at the Democratic National Convention.

November 22, 2016 – President Barack Obama awards Abdul-Jabbar with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

February 13, 2017 – The Hollywood Reporter announces Abdul-Jabbar is joining the publication as a contributing editor. He will also write a regular column and conduct interviews with “select” celebrities.

March 3, 2019 – Abdul-Jabbar auctions 234 items from his collection of memorabilia, including four of his six NBA championship rings. The auction nets almost $3 million, with much of the proceeds going to his Skyhook Foundation.

2020 – Co-produces the documentary, “Black Patriots,” that focuses on the black American heroes of the Revolutionary War.

Article Topic Follows: National-World

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