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In a recent blog post, NBA legend and activist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote: "Looking back on what I have done with my life, instead of gazing at the sparkle of jewels or gold plating celebrating something I did a long time ago, I’d rather look into the delighted face of a child holding their first caterpillar and think about what I might be doing for their future."
With that in mind, Abdul-Jabbar has decided to auction off some of his rare memorabilia items to benefit his Skyhook Foundation, an organization that encourages children to learn about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) subjects.
The 71 year-old is parting with some of his championship rings from the 1980s, jerseys worn during some of his most memorable games, and an assortment of "keys to cities" that he’s been presented with over the years. He won his first championship ring playing for the Milwaukee Bucks in 1971 and then went on to win five championships with his beloved Los Angeles Lakers. Playing over 20 years in the NBA, Abdul-Jabbar retired in 1989 as the league’s leading scorer, shot blocker, and winner of MVP titles.
The mission of his Skyhook Foundation is to "give kids a shot that can’t be blocked." With the minimum bid on one of Abdul-Jabbar’s championship rings being $60,000, proceeds are sure to create numerous opportunities to positively impact the futures of tomorrow's leaders. For example, the Foundation has sent children from impoverished communities to the Los Angeles National Forest for an extended stay filled with exploration of the cross-sections between nature and STEM topics. In an experience that they call "Camp Skyhook," kids get to engage all of their senses in the great outdoors to spark their interest in the sciences which may also lead to meaningful science-based careers.
"Since my life is still happening and ever-evolving, I am less personally attached to those items than I am to my desire to create new history for myself—and futures for others," Abdul-Jabbar went on to share.
Some would describe Abdul-Jabbar as the greatest center to ever play basketball. Others have been inspired and impacted by his humanitarian’s heart far more than his prowess on the court. His decision to relinquish his prized memorabilia in this manner and for this cause has merged his athletic accomplishments and love for mankind into one noble effort.
"When it comes to choosing between storing a championship ring or trophy in a room or providing kids with an opportunity to change their lives, the choice is pretty simple, Abdul-Jabbar wrote on his blog. "Sell it all."