Basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, whose name means "generous, powerful son of Allah" (1947-) was born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor and grew up in Harlem. As a college hoopster, he led the UCLA Bruins to three NCAA championships (1967-1969) and was twice named player of the year.
"I learned early on that there's a place inside oneself that no one else can violate," he explained. "We have a right to protect that place."
The top NBA draft pick, at 7-foot-1.75-inches tall, he joined the Milwaukee Bucks, changed his name, and converted from Catholicism to the black orthodox Hanafi sect. "I saw Islam as the correct way to live, and I chose to try to live that way," said the star.
Traded to Los Angeles, the remarkable Number 33 led the Lakers to five NBA championships (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, and 1988) and dominated the game, setting personal and team records. He was "the kind of player that graces a sport once in a lifetime," praised the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Abdul-Jabbar's signature shot was the indefensible sky hook -- right arm extended full and away from the defender. Soft touch, basketball poetry, with accuracy, it became a killer scoring tool. Retiring in 1990, he said, "The sport goes on. People will find new heroes. And I'm flattered they'll be compared to me."
"I can do something else besides stuff a ball through a hoop," explained the famous 7-foot-2 center. "My biggest resource is my mind."
Great things happen with talent, hard work, and luck.