Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Bio And Facts

kareem abdul jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (born Lew Alcindor) is one of the greatest basketball players of all time. As an athlete, he shined at every level of his career. When he played high school basketball in his hometown of New York City, Kareem was a dominant player and impressed many college coaches with his abilities, especially on offense.

Among Kareem’s greatest coaches was legendary UCLA head coach John Wooden. At UCLA, Abdul-Jabbar became an even brighter star, being arguably the greatest college basketball player ever. In the NBA, he would keep on breaking records and boundaries, being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame after the end of his career.

Off the court, Kareem is an important social advocate and an important personality in the Los Angeles community. He is a best-seller author, a political activist, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom winner. Overall, he is a very interesting person, who has made an impact beyond the sport he played.

  • Birthday: April 16th, 1947 (16-04-1947)
  • Education: UCLA
  • Net Worth: $20 million
  • Occupation: Former professional basketball player
  • Height: 7 foot 2 inches (2.18 m)
  • Weight: 225 lbs (102 kg)
  • Years Active: 20 years (1969-1989)
  • Career Wins: 6-time NBA Champion, 2-time NBA Finals MVP, 6-time NBA MVP, 19-time NBA All-Star, 1074 career wins, NBA Rookie of the Year, 3-time NCAA Champion, 3-time Final Four Most Outstanding Player
  • Nicknames: "The Captain", "Big A", "The Tower from Power"
  • Teams: UCLA Men's Basketball, Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers

Basketball Career

From the start of his career at Power Memorial HS in New York City, it could be seen that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar would be special. With an absolutely dominant set of offensive skills, Kareem (who at the time was known as Lew Alcindor) was impossible to guard, and could score at will, with the skyhook being his trademark. By the time he graduated high school, Lew could've gone to any college basketball program in the country.

Alcindor chose to attend UCLA and learn from legendary head coach John Wooden. During his time with the Bruins, he established himself as arguably the greatest college basketball player ever. At a time where freshmen weren't allowed to play for the varsity team, he won three national championships in three years.

Alcindor’s professional career started in 1969, when he was drafted into the NBA by the Milwaukee Bucks. Lew Alcindor had an immediate impact on his team; he was named Rookie of the Year, and in just his second season led the Milwaukee Bucks to their first and so far only NBA Championship. Having studied the islamic religion during his time at UCLA, Lew Alcindor converted to Islam, and officially became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1971, the same year he won the title with the Bucks.

After six seasons, Abdul-Jabbar requested a trade out of Milwaukee. Although the Bucks tried everything, Kareem was unhappy with his lifestyle in the city of Milwaukee. The best player in the NBA was then traded to Los Angeles, where he paired up with Magic Johnson to create the Showtime Lakers. Kareem retired in 1989, leading the NBA all-time scoring list with 38,387 points.

Titles and Awards

With a stellar basketball career, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's trophy room is certainly filled. Kareem has won at every level he played at, beginning in high school, where he had an overall record of 78-1 and two national titles in four years for Power High School. Moving on to UCLA, he would establish himself as the most remarkable college basketball player ever. In addition to three National Championships with the Bruins in three years, and an overall record of 88-2, Kareem has won a total of 15 individual awards related to his college career.

Abdul-Jabbar continued the trend in the NBA, being named Rookie of the Year, and winning the NBA Championship in his second season. In his 20 years in the league, Kareem won six MVP Awards (most in NBA history) and six NBA Championships. He also had 19 All-Star Game appearances (most in NBA history) and broke the NBA's all-time points record with 38,387 points, which he held until LeBron James broke the record in 2023. He was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995.

Off the court, Abdul-Jabbar has won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work, and has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his actions on and off the court.

Personal Life

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is as remarkable off the court as he is in it. Kareem is a known social activist, who makes his voice heard and fights for equality. He is also a best-selling author, who has published many books, including biographies, fiction, and black history themed children’s books.

His children's book about African-American inventors earned Kareem the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work. He has also written several articles for important media outlets such as Time magazine, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post, which range from basketball to politics. In 2016, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor a civilian can receive.

Kareem has also been part of a few movies and TV shows, more notoriously Airplane!, and Game of Death. Kareem has been divorced since 1978, and has four children, all of whom take his Islamic last name, "Abdul-Jabbar."

Fun Facts

  • One of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's best friends was boxing legend Muhammad Ali. They met in Los Angeles when Kareem was at UCLA, and were as close as brothers.
  • Jabbar was diagnosed with leukemia in 2008 but thankfully was cancer-free by 2011.
  • Kareem retired from the NBA in 1989, at 42 years of age. At the time, he had the record for most NBA games played, which has since been beaten by Robert Parish.
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has scored the second-most points by a player in NBA history.
  • In Kareem's freshman year at UCLA, there was a friendly game between the varsity basketball team and the freshman team, to inaugurate UCLA's Pauley Pavilion.


Why did Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wear goggles?

Throughout his college and pro career, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had his eyes poked and scratched several times, and even missed some games because of it. Due to the constant damage to his eyes, he chose to wear protective goggles, which became one of his trademarks.

Does Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have his jersey number retired?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has his number 33 retired by three teams: the UCLA Bruins, by the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Milwaukee Bucks. While his jersey was retired by UCLA and the Lakers in 1990, the Bucks did so in 1993.

What is Kareem's "skyhook"?

The skyhook is one of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's unguardable offensive moves. To perform the skyhook, Kareem would place himself inside the paint, parallel to the sidelines. He would then turn sideways to the basket jumping, using the closest shoulder to protect from the defender, and the opposite arm to shoot over the defender, in a high arching floater. It is a very tough shot to make, but Kareem mastered it, and was able to do it consistently.

What is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's birth name?

Kareem's given birth name is Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr., but he was mostly known as Lew Alcindor. Throughout his whole college career, and first years in the NBA, he wore his jersey with "Alcindor" on the back. Having converted to Islam during college, he officially adopted an Islamic name in 1971, and has been known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ever since.