Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - Personal Life - Religion and Name

Religion and Name

Speaking about the thinking behind his change of name when he converted to Islam he stated that he was "latching on to something that was part of my heritage, because many of the slaves who were brought here were Muslims. My family was brought to America by a French planter named Alcindor, who came here from Trinidad in the 18th century. My people were Yoruba, and their culture survived slavery (...) My father found out about that when I was a kid, and it gave me all I needed to know that, hey, I was somebody, even if nobody else knew about it. When I was a kid, no one would believe anything positive that you could say about black people. And that's a terrible burden on black people, because they don't have an accurate idea of their history, which has been either suppressed or distorted."

Abdul-Jabbar reached a settlement after suing Miami Dolphins running back Karim Abdul-Jabbar (now Abdul-Karim al-Jabbar, born Sharmon Shah) because he felt Karim was sponging off the name he made famous by having the Abdul-Jabbar moniker and number 33 on his Dolphins jersey, even though names are not protectable under U.S. copyright laws. As a result, the younger Abdul-Jabbar had to change his jersey nameplate to simply "Abdul" while playing for the Dolphins. The football player had also been an athlete at UCLA.

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