NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was born Lew Alcindor in New York City on April 16, 1947. In 1971, at the age of 24, while playing for the Milwaukee Bucks, he converted to Islam and changed his name to one that means “the noble one, servant of the Almighty.” There was, however, an ugly side to Jabbar’s conversion to Islam — a troubling and oppressive attitude towards women.
According to actress Pam Grier’s 2010 autobiography, “Foxy: My Life In Three Acts,” she and Jabbar shared a passionate and serious relationship during the process of his religious conversion. Marriage was on the table. She had already met his parents, and their mutual destinies had launched.
Both were young. He was already a leading NBA scorer and had been named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year. She was 22, impossibly gorgeous, and on the cusp of launching an acting career that would eventually lead to her earning her own status as a legend.
The relationship abruptly changed when Lew asked her to start calling him Kareem. He had begun a conversion to what would become a lifelong commitment to Islam. Immediately, he demanded she stop working. “A conservative man at heart who was getting more so by the day,” Grier writes, “he didn’t want to see his girlfriend working.”
At the time Grier was working as a dancer in a nightclub. The type of work she was doing wasn’t the only issue. He did not want her working at all, and he also wanted her to convert to Islam…