Born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, Jr. in New York on April 16, 1947, this 12 lb. 11 oz. baby grew up to be a 7 ft. 2 in. professional basketball player.  He began his record-breaking basketball accomplishments in high school when he led Jack Donahue’s Power Memorial Academy to three straight New York City Catholic championships, a 71-game winning streak, and a 79-2 overall record.

During his college years at UCLA, he played on the freshman team in 1966 and on the varsity team from 1967 to 1969.  According to Wikipedia, “He was the main contributor to the team’s three-year record of 88 wins and only two losses:  one to the University of Houston in which Alcindor had an eye injury, and the other to crosstown rival USC who played a “stall game.”  In his first game Alcindor scored 56 points, which set a UCLA single-game record.”

During the summer of 1968, Alcindor converted to Sunni Islam.  However, he did not begin publicly using his Arabic name, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, until 1971.

In 1969, Alcindor began his professional career with the Milwaukee Bucks.  He was an instant star, ranking second in the league in scoring (28.8 ppg) and third in rebounding (14.5 rpg).  He was named NBA Rookie of the Year.  The following year, he was named NBA Most Valuable Player.  Throughout his career, he was well known for his “skyhook,” a hook shot in which he bent his entire body like a straw, raised the ball, and released it at the highest point of his arm’s arching motion.

On June 28, 1989, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar announced that he would retire at the end of the season after twenty years in the NBA.

In November of 2009, he announced that he was suffering from a form of leukemia, Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow.  Abdul-Jabbar said that his condition could be managed by taking oral medication daily, seeing his specialist every other month, and having his blood analyzed regularly.

In February of 2011, Abdul-Jabbar announced via Twitter that his leukemia was gone and he was “100% cancer free.”  A few days later, he clarified his misstatement.  “You’re never really cancer-free and I should have known that.” Abdul-Jabbar said.  “My cancer right now is at an absolute minimum.”

If you have a family member who suffers from leukemia and needs private duty nursing, call American Home Health at (630) 236-3501.  The agency can provide round-the-clock nursing care by Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs).  Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including , and Kankakee.  American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission.  For further information, go to www.ahhc-1.com, or call (630) 236-3501.

By Karen Centowski