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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Tuesday's Connector of the Day – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

December 7th, 2009
04:48 PM ET

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is best known as the 7-foot-2 center who led the UCLA Bruins to three NCAA championships in the 1960s, then went on to win one NBA championship with the Milwaukee Bucks in 1971 and five more with the Los Angeles Lakers before retiring in 1989.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/07/jabbar.art.jpg caption="Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is spreading his educational message about cancer."]

He also has dabbled in acting, notably as an airline pilot in the 1980 comedy "Airplane!"

One of the greatest college and professional basketball players of all time, Abdul-Jabbar went public with his blood cancer diagnosis last month.

The 62-year-old former center for the Los Angeles Lakers has chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) – he discovered the diagnosis last December.

CML doesn’t significantly affect his quality of life, but Abdul-Jabbar has to have his blood levels checked on a regular basis.

After a year of keeping this private, Abdul-Jabbar made the recent announcement in order to raise awareness about the disease.

In the process of researching CML, Abdul-Jabbar says he was shocked to learn that some cancer patients do not regularly take their cancer medication. This led him to approach the pharmaceutical company Novartis about launching an educational campaign.

Spreading the message that medication, seeking advice from doctors and personal vigilance is vital if we are to keep cancer at bay, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is our Connector of the Day on Tuesday.

Send your questions for the basketball legend here.

soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Siyad Hajir

    Many people who have choronic diseases like Cancer and Leukemia (CML) think that these diseases will effect the quality of there life and totaly loose hope,what is your messege or advice to these people?


    December 7, 2009 at 10:34 pm | Reply
  2. Kevin

    Is there a specific website at which Mr. Abdul-Jabbar receives mail from fans? I have long wanted to write him a letter expressing my admiration for him. I really enjoyed his commentary on Muhammad Ali in a special piece that was recently done by USA Today about the boxer. Fans should be sure to check it out. Thanks!

    December 8, 2009 at 12:34 am | Reply
  3. Tom

    I remember watching you and Magic Johnson and all the great players on the Lakers of the late eighties. There will never be a team assembled like that in basketball history ever again. Legends..

    December 8, 2009 at 12:51 am | Reply
  4. Mer

    I admire your strength and courage.

    I believe education is the first step. One dietary supplement that is proving to be effective in Cancer prevention is Omega-3 fish oil.

    One of the more compelling studies on Omega-3s and Cancer is a large randomized trial showing that individuals who consume a diet with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids were 56% less likely to get cancers, and 61% less likely to die from the cancer. New studies continue to show the promising potential of omega-3 in the fight against cancer.

    We have only just begun educating on the many benefits associated with Omega-3s.

    Please explore!


    December 8, 2009 at 4:57 am | Reply
  5. Mr. Oryema James

    Hi Mr. Kareem,

    Many thanks for using your fame to spread the message of hope to cancer patients like yourself. Please why not use the same tactics to improve the image of Islam that has been tanished by Islamic extremist groups who are even killing children during prayer in a mosque.

    December 8, 2009 at 8:29 am | Reply
  6. JK

    I admire your strength and courage,You are great!!!

    A lot of People are dying with cancer in Africa as well,do have any plan to spread your message to Africa as well??

    December 8, 2009 at 10:37 am | Reply
  7. Mike

    I miss that SKYhook! What a treasure you are in sport and in life. My best to you as you tell your story and educate others.

    December 8, 2009 at 1:52 pm | Reply
  8. Rick Azadian

    May our savior Jesus Christ give you a long and healthy life.

    December 8, 2009 at 2:08 pm | Reply
  9. Ken Gambi

    Hi Kareem,thanks for the inspiration you send across the world concerning cancer. Please could you consider visiting us in Kenya and telling more about your subject ?

    December 8, 2009 at 2:38 pm | Reply
  10. RockSolid

    I remember when your fabulous UCLA freshmen team crushed the varsity in a pre-season game, but do I remember you also played against Glendale College that year, too?

    December 8, 2009 at 3:39 pm | Reply
  11. Adam

    Hi Mr Kareem,

    Does your Islamic faith help you in anyway throught this condition?

    December 8, 2009 at 3:46 pm | Reply
  12. omar aref

    May your savior the All Mighty God give you long and healthy life and may God bestow his grace on his beloved messengers, adam,noah,moses,jesus and muhammed peace be upon all of them!!

    December 8, 2009 at 4:15 pm | Reply
  13. Mohammad Golzada

    Hello Kareem,

    eid Mubarak to you from UK. (sorry i know its a bit late)
    I am 5ft 8inch and weigh around 11 stones. what advice would you give for me to be more athletic. would you suggest weights or another form of training.

    thank you and aslamualaykum.

    December 8, 2009 at 4:22 pm | Reply
  14. Sharon Akaiwa

    Abdul-Jabbar, you made the recent announcement in order to raise awareness about the disease, I believe you are a classic example of a great athletic who understand they have to stand out and stand up and be role model's in every exspect of life including our world health issues.
    When people see you are not afraid of this illiness, you handle this head on, they feel you are being a good example for everyone.
    Thank you ABdul-Jabbar

    I lived in the Los Angeles,CA in the 60's,

    December 8, 2009 at 4:39 pm | Reply
  15. liz

    Hi Kareem,just wanted to say that you are still the greatest amongst all of the basket ball legends,you will always be loved and remembered.God Bless You.

    December 8, 2009 at 5:04 pm | Reply
  16. Edward

    Dear Kareem,

    First of all I wish you strength in fighting your disease.

    I started playing basketball because I was inspired by the LA Lakers games I saw on tv. I was tall for my age so I became center, but then I saw all of my opponents outgrow me. Inspired by you, I worked a lot on my sky hook and used it to outplay taller opponents.

    My question:
    You perfected the sky hook and it became an important part of your game. Why do you think so few players today use the sky hook?

    December 8, 2009 at 5:53 pm | Reply
  17. Keira


    Best of luck in your fight against this disease. Bravo for having the courage to share your story and looking to educate people about this disease.

    My question for you is, do you watch/follow the WNBA? What do you suggest can be done to change certain male viewpoints that the professional women's game is not up to par with the NBA?

    December 8, 2009 at 6:02 pm | Reply
  18. shafqat

    As Slam Alai Kum,
    Best of Luck in your fight against cancer.

    December 8, 2009 at 6:52 pm | Reply
  19. Rev. J. Patrick Kelly

    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, I wish you the best is your battle with Leukemia. I too have symptoms of Leukemia and am able to fight them back with Chinese herbs and acupuncture. I have been using them for 3 years and am am to heal my kidneys and loose the symptoms. I hope that you would check this avenue of healing out also.

    I wish you the best and know that my spiritual prayers are with you. Peace be with you, Namaste,

    December 8, 2009 at 6:58 pm | Reply
  20. Katharina Harf

    Kareem is truly inspirational and I am happy to hear that Kareem is doing so well.
    Some CML patients, unlike Kareem, need a bone marrow transplant and I hope that Kareem's story will inspire people to register as bone marrow donors.
    My family founded DKMS, the largest donor center in the world, and I encourage you to register at http://www.dkmsamericas.org

    Thank you

    December 8, 2009 at 8:55 pm | Reply
  21. Mitch Gensman

    Wow, the Lakers are rock'n this year, I hope we're able to stay healthy
    through the finals.....

    December 27, 2009 at 3:34 am | Reply

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