For some athletes their role and importance in the community is just as significant as their job on the court. Over the last 50 years, we have seen some of the greatest athletes of all time gain legendary status not only because of what they did for their respective sport, but for their social status and importance in pop culture and politics alike. Muhammad Ali was one of the first and still is one of the most giving athletes of all-time. Using his athletic platform to voice his opinion on social and racial matters, Ali’s name has become significant in politics, as well as boxing. Multiple athletes since then have been dedicated their time to teaching others and using their name to their advantage. NBA Hall of Famer and Los Angeles Lakers great, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, has done just that.
Abdul-Jabbar is more than a familiar face to NBA fans young and old. His excellence and natural talent for the game was evident night after night. Throughout his 20-year career, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was selected 19 times to the NBA All-Star team; was named league MVP on six occasions; won six NBA Championships; and was named Finals MVP twice. Throughout his career he was easily one of the best centers in the Association and made the ‘sky hook’ one of the hardest shots to block. A key member of the Lakers dynasty that dominated the 1980s, he was able to alter his game and stay relevant until his retirement in 1989.
After his retirement, Kareem kept busy and became active within the community helping the local youth. He started Kareem’s Kids in 1989 looking to motivate kids to stay in school and out of gangs. With the goal of shaping young minds for the better, Abdul-Jabbar frequently visited with schools and stressed the importance of knowledge and education as a platform to success in life. He once was quoted saying that “the backlog of ignorance in poor America” is responsible for the “glorification of underachievement, an issue that we must go out of our way to address.” A statement that would become the support of his efforts to educate and inspire students of all ages, focusing on the potential of America’s youth.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has worked with various literacy groups over time, and to this day still focuses on today’s youth by working with and speaking to students about the importance of awareness and a positive outlook. Earlier this year, Abdul-Jabbar’s Skyhook Foundation released its first of a series of documentaries, On the Shoulders of Giants; which takes a look at the Harlem Renaissance as well as the first African-American basketball team to win the World Basketball Championship. The film combines the world of sports with an educational element, displaying a platform for social and racial justice. The Skyhook Foundation uses sports heroes to encourage and inspire children to reach not only a higher education, but to obtain higher goals in life.
In hopes to further the Skyhook Foundation mission and goal, Kareem is busy working on books and films that will become the basis for his mission statement, as well as other educational programs. His work highlights the accomplishments of African-American heroes; inspiring youth to become their own hero and one day no longer tolerate racial differences. Throughout his career in the NBA, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar worked hard every day to better himself and the team around him. That same work ethic can be said for his endeavors in children’s educational development and his passion for society’s future.
To learn more about the Skyhook Foundation or anything else that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is involved with, visit http://kareemabduljabbar.com/?p=1033