Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is not only a gifted basketball player, but an author and humanitarian. Jabbar’s many social justice pleas and his constant fight for civil rights and human decency have etched his name in history as one of the most respected sports figures when it comes to such issues.
Because of his lifelong dedication to social justice, the former Los Angeles Lakers star now has an award named after him, known as the “Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion Award.”
Finalists For KAJ Social Justice Award
This year’s finalists are Dallas Mavericks guard-forward Reggie Bullock, Milwaukee Bucks Guard Jrue Holiday, Memphis Grizzlies forward-center Jaren Jackson Jr, Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl Anthony-Towns, and Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet.
At this time, according to the NBA, these finalists are the five most impactful social justice advocates who are furthering a mission of activism that was once led by Kareem himself.
“The annual award recognizes a current NBA player for pursuing social justice and advancing Kareem’s life mission to engage, empower and drive equality for individuals and groups who have been historically marginalized or systematically disadvantaged.”
The finalists were selected by a group committee led by Kareem and many other NBA representatives and activists who embody what the award stands for.
The committee includes inaugural voters Abdul-Jabbar; director of The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport Dr. Richard Lapchick; National Urban League president and CEO Marc Morial; UnidosUS president and CEO Janet Murguía; Rise Founder and CEO Amanda Nguyen, and NBA deputy commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum, as well as Kendall Dudley, the 2021-22 youth representative who is a member of the Jr. NBA Court of Leaders.”
The five finalists are ones the committee finds have have shown excellent character and resolve in being dedicated to their foundations and causes to help improve the lives of many around them. The winner of the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion Award will receive $100,000 to the nonprofit organization of their choice. Meanwhile the four other finalists will receive $25,000 to the nonprofit organizations of their choice.
Reggie Bullock has selected Kinston Teens as his selected funding recipient. Jrue Holiday has selected Urban Underground as his selected recipient. Jaren Jackson Jr. has chosen Rock the Vote as his selected donation recipient. Karl Anthony-Towns has chosen the George Floyd Memorial Foundation as his selected recipient for the award, and Fred VanVleet has chosen the Penny Appeal Canada as his selected recipient for the award.
The previous year’s winner was Lakers forward Carmelo Anthony who played for the Portland Trailblazers at the time. He selected Portland Art Museum’s Black Arts and Experiences initiative to receive the $100,000 donation.
Kareem’s social justice champion award is clearly an initiative that everyone can get behind, and it is something that will motivate many to do more philanthropic work in their community. It is also something that awards the caring players who do dedicate their life and funds to service and help build the communities for which they perform. Everyone who participates in this type of work is a winner in the game of life.