Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — author, ambassador and former Los Angeles Laker superstar — joined Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn Sunday in working to score points with Chicago high school students on the importance of learning math and science and preparing for careers outside of sports and entertainment, such as in engineering and technology.
“Science, technology, engineering and mathematics, those subjects are very important for any young person out there,” Abdul-Jabbar, the co-author of a children’s book on African-American inventors, told students and parents gathered at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School. “If you start thinking about those types of things right now, those subjects and paying attention to them in school and getting good grades in those subjects…that type of foundation will be the foundation for jobs in the 21st century…will enable you to be relevant to the work force and to get a good job.”
Abdul-Jabbar told the story of Dr. Richard Drew, who developed the concept of large-scale blood banks. He also talked about the work of Dr. James West, who helped develop the electroacoustic transducer, also called a foil-electret microphone, used in telephones.
“I’m not telling you not to go out there and play hoops or go out there and write those wonderful songs,” Abdul-Jabbar said. But, “so many young people, in inner city communities especially, only see themselves as being able to be successful in only two areas… sports and entertainment. They don’t have any idea what their potential is beyond those two areas.”