Millennial Travel Podcast

NBA Champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Shares Lessons Learned from Muhammad Ali and Bruce Lee

Hannah Pinkerton
January 16, 2024

The Guest

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, a six-time NBA champion and the league’s only 6x MVP. He is one of a handful of influential and respected black men in America who has a national platform as a regular contributing columnist for newspapers and magazines around the world, such as The Guardian and The Hollywood Reporter where he shares his thoughts on some of the most socially relevant and politically controversial topics facing our nation today. 

After 50 years as an athlete and activist, he offers his perspectives as a nationally recognized speaker who regularly appears on the lecture circuit.

Currently, Abdul-Jabbar serves as the chairman of his Skyhook Foundation whose mission is to “Give Kids a Shot That Can’t be Blocked” by bringing educational STEM opportunities to underserved communities through innovative outdoor environmental learning. A NY Times best-selling author, he has written 14 books, including two recent memoirs: Becoming Kareem for young readers, and Coach Wooden and Me about his lifelong friendship with famed UCLA coach John Wooden.

His Emmy Award-winning HBO Sports documentary, Kareem: Minority of One, debuted as HBO’s most watched and highest rated sports documentary of all time.

In 2017 Abdul-Jabbar, an avid numismatic coin collector, was appointed as the first African-American to the CCAC (Citizens Coin Advisory Council) in its 100-year history, where he helps decide on all coins that are to be minted in The United States.

Before leaving office President Barack Obama awarded Abdul-Jabbar The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

The Episode

Our episode today is all about lessons Kareem has learned throughout his life, including takeaways from his famous friends Muhammad Ali, Coach John Wooden, and Bruce Lee.

He shares advice about his journey for finding great mentors and coaches, as well as insights about speaking out, humility, and discovering who you are. He suggests starting by reading and learning more about your interests.

He leaves listeners with the advice, “The most important thing to understand is knowledge is power. Someone who is informed is taking the right steps to achieving their goals.”

Topics Covered

  • Ways young people can go about finding great mentors and coaches
  • How to begin building rapport with experts in your field of interest
  • How Kareem met Muhammad Ali
  • A big takeaway from Coach John Wooden
  • What Islam means to Kareem
  • Why Kareem converted to Islam after being raised Catholic
  • How Muhammad Ali’s beliefs inspired Kareem
  • Who should speak out about what is important to them
  • Takeaways from Kareem’s friendship with Bruce Lee
  • How Kareem learned humility
  • Ways for young people to go about discovering who they are
  • Details on Kareem’s upcoming book tour of the country

Quotes From The Episode

“If you start reading about it, and learning about it, you will get closer to finding people who will give you a deeper knowledge.”
“Basketball is a team sport and no one guy can do it all by himself.”
“Everyone has to decide as an individual what they want to do. Some people are more comfortable getting out in front and other people are more comfortable staying in the background. Realize its a group effort, not on an individual, but every individual is needed to support the push for greater human rights.”
“We have to have the humility to find out what we don’t know. You go out there and fail a few times and that will make your humble real quick. The world has a lot to give to you in terms of knowledge and experience.”
“No need to be pessimistic. Success is attainable.”


Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court

Coach Wooden and Me: Our 50-Year Friendship On and Off the Cour

Learn More About Kareem and his Upcoming Tour

Follow Kareem on Twitter


Listen in Now, and learn from a NBA Champion & Medal of Freedom recipient!

You can get this episode directly to your iPhone on iTunes, your Android on Stitcher, or on Soundcloud.

Hannah Pinkerton
Hannah enjoys spreading love in the world through travel, blogging, and teaching Spanish. Her hobbies include exploring in nature, taking naps, and spoiling her two dogs. She is proud to use her organizational and list making skills as an Executive Assistant for U30X.


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