Standing at 7-foot-2, in-person, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar may tower over most, but it’s his unassuming smile that immediately catches your attention. As an athlete who has seen such great success, both on the court and off, the humble and soft-spoken nature he embodies for a man of his stature is, at the very least, beautifully surprising.
His latest memoir, Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court, details the vanguard’s early life. It chronicles how a shy boy from New York City named Lew Alcindor, grew up to become the sports legend we know today as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The book earned him and his co-author (Raymond Obstfeld) a nomination in the category of Outstanding Literary Work – Children, at the 49th NAACP Image Awards.
“The NAACP really gets Black Americans to understand more about themselves and about America,” the NBA All-Star told AXS before the awards show. “It also shows the country at-large what Black Americans are thinking about and the things they’re trying to achieve.”
Saying that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar knows a thing or two about achievement would be an understatement. As a global icon who serves as an ambassador of education, the six-time MVP has brought about more social change through his long list of accomplishments than most people realize.
“It’s been a good year for me,” the former Laker mused about his recent success. “Becoming Kareem is my story, about the people who mentored me and enabled me to figure out what I needed to learn in order to become an adult.”
“If I could pass along any lesson I’ve learned throughout my career, it would be that knowledge is power. We have to understand some things, if we want to change things,” he explained. As to what personally motivates the superstar on a daily basis, he says it’s in seeing how today’s youth yearns for enlightenment. “I’m inspired by the fact that I see young people thirsting for knowledge. Helping them get an idea of how to achieve that knowledge and gather that knowledge, that inspires me. If I can help some people do that then I feel good.”
While the two-time NAACP Image Award-winner did not bring home the trophy this year, in the same sentiment that Kareem’s own life echoes, the greatness that you manage to accumulate comes from who you are, not just what you can do. For this champion, it’s apparent simply by being in his presence, he wins on both counts.
Becoming Kareem is just another example of how The New York Times bestselling author continues to shape our cultural landscape. His autobiography teaches today’s generation that striving for excellence is not merely about how many accolades we can acquire. It’s about doing your best in every aspect of life, overcoming adversity, learning how to be a good human and paying forward the same level of inspiration that has been gifted to you.
To stay up-to-date and learn more about the six-time NBA champion’s book, Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court, you can head over to his website.