"The reason we honor Kareem is more than just a pair of goggles and the skyhook. He stood up for his Muslim faith when it wasn't easy and it wasn't popular. He's as comfortable sparing with Bruce Lee as he is advocating on Capitol Hill, or writing with extraordinary eloquence about patriotism. Physically, intellectually, spiritually - Kareem is one of a kind."
These were the words President Obama used to describe Kareem Abdul Jabar when presenting him as the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor a civilian can receive in the United States. Kareem is truly a spectacular human being. You could make the case that being the leading scorer in NBA history, Finals MVP 14 years apart and all his other basketball achievements might not crack the top 5 best things about him.
His activism and courage to do the right thing when it is not popular to do so is an everlasting source of inspiration, and Kareem is doing it again. In order to raise money for his Skyhook Foundation charity, he is auctioning off championship rings and other important memorabilia from his illustrious career, including the last ball he played with in 1989. Here's how Kareem explains his decision:
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. Sell it all. 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. That’s a history that has no price.
A perfect basketball player might have Currys's shot, Kyrie's handles, MJ's clutch gene, LeBron's athleticism, Magic's court vision etc., but without a doubt, you'd want him or her to have Kareem's character. Basketball is lucky to have such an ambassador.