February 17, 2020
He’s probably most well-known for being the all-time leading scorer in the NBA, a six-time champion, and the league’s only six-time MVP, but there is so much more than basketball to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He’s also a regular contributing columnist for international publications like The Guardian and The Hollywood Reporter, a best-selling author (both in fiction and non-fiction) and the chairman of the Skyhook Foundation, which focuses on bringing STEM opportunities to underserved communities through innovative outdoor learning.
In October 2019, the John V. Roach Honors College welcomed Abdul-Jabbar to TCU as the keynote speaker for the annual Fogelson Honors Forum.
In addition to his excellence in basketball, Abdul-Jabbar is the epitome of an engaged and multifaceted individual. His diverse passions, unswerving focus on social change and zest for life inspired the Honors College to invite the basketball legend to serve as this year’s keynote speaker.
Much like Abdul-Jabbar, Honors students are encouraged to explore multiple perspectives and broaden their horizons – they are writers and athletes; volunteers and activists; leaders, researchers, and more. With an expansive range of interests and passions and an appetite for a challenge, Abdul-Jabbar provided students an excellent example of melding inquiry and dedication to promote positive change.
During the forum, Abdul-Jabbar discussed a variety of issues – from activism in professional athletes and his views on racial issues in the modern era to his thoughts on the Islamic faith. His presentation reflected key themes of courage, resiliency, curiosity and passion for social justice and equality – traits that serve as the foundation of the Honors College experience and are encouraged in all Honors students.
Though he is proud of his accomplishments on the court, he notes that it has always been important for him to invest in a wide range of interests. “I’m glad I didn’t limit myself to basketball. I think too many people do that – it’s unfortunate,” he said. In fact, when asked about his proudest achievement, Abdul-Jabbar didn’t list one on the court. Instead, he pointed to publishing his black history book, Black Profiles in Courage: A Legacy, noting that he thought the material vitally important and was proud to have a platform to share it with the masses.
Nonetheless, Abdul-Jabbar still spent some time reflecting on his legendary athletic career, treating the audience to stories about his time on the court, anecdotes about famed Lakers coach, John Wooden, and the development of his game-changing move, the Skyhook.
His address at TCU left attendees inspired and grateful for the opportunity to hear from such an extraordinary individual.
Dean of TCU Admission, Heath Einstein, tweeted, “What a privilege to meet the iconic [Kareem Abdul-Jabbar] tonight at the Honors Fogelson Forum. A dream for this lifelong Lakers fan to meet a man as dedicated to humanity as he was to his craft.”
“Thankful for the chance to ask a question of and learn from [Kareem Abdul-Jabbar] today. Great wisdom on what it means to prepare, lead, and succeed in life,” shared Honors student, Colin Post, who attended the student Q&A prior to the keynote address.