Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

by Tanner Ortiz from Placentia, California in United States

“My Hero, the Diverse”

In today’s modern society, we are required to have multiple talents -- to be diverse, forward-thinking people. People have to be flexible with their abilities, while remain dedicated to bettering society. A person that I admire who best defines this fine line is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Most people know him as the Hall of Fame center for the Bucks and Lakers, the NBA’s most prolific scorer, one of the focal points of the “Showtime” Lakers and creator of the famous “skyhook.” While I do admire Kareem’s incredible basketball career, what makes him a hero is how he made himself more than a great athlete. 

He grew up in New York City during a time in America where black people were unabashedly discriminated against, and during the rise of the Civil Rights Movement. As a high school student, he witnessed and wrote about police brutality during the Harlem riots. As a superstar college athlete at UCLA, he took part in protests against the Vietnam War, and boycotted the 1968 Olympics to stand against black exploitation, a decision that was widely criticized by white America. And while playing in a deeply conservative city in Milwaukee, he announced that he was a follower of Islam, and changed his name to support his beliefs. Even in his advanced age, Abdul-Jabbar remains a highly respected figure in political and social commentary, writing op-eds for The New York Times, Time, and The Washington Post, most recently discussing the anti-racism movement following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbury.

As an avid follower of the sports world, I see the best athletes of my time, like LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Colin Kaepernick, discuss the burning issues of the day and offer their opinions and solutions to them. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar laid the groundwork for future athletes to expand their influence beyond the basketball court. When Kareem was going forward with his career, white society told black athletes to stay quiet and keep their opinions to themselves. Even on the basketball court, white coaches often made their black players fit into playing the “white” way. Seeing the Civil Rights Movement losing steam during the late 1960s, Kareem knew that as the best player in basketball, his voice has an impact, and he used it. Ever since his days at UCLA, he has used his voice to speak up against racism and Islamophobia. He has used his voice to tell the stories of ostracized black history, such as the Harlem Renaissance basketball team and the black heroes of the Revolutionary War. He has become more than the famous basketball player, expanding his talents into the worlds of literature, film, and television.

In short, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a person that I admire, because he has not only shown that he is a person of many talents, but he has used those talents to address injustice in the world, and to create a blueprint on how we can make it a better place.

Page created on 7/23/2020 6:16:40 AM

Last edited 8/4/2020 2:47:48 AM

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