Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Speak at NAFSA 2017 International Education Conference in Los Angeles




Rebecca Morgan,, 202.495.2553
Katie O’Connell,, 202.495.2559

WASHINGTON, November 22, 2016 – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, best-selling author, social activist, and one of the greatest basketball players of all time will deliver Wednesday’s plenary address at the NAFSA 2017 Annual Conference & Expo.

The 7-foot-2 Basketball Hall of Fame center dominated the NBA, winning six NBA Championships over the span of a twenty-year professional career. The six-time NBA MVP and nineteen-time All-Star displayed grace, agility and versatility through his shot blocking ability and indefensible “skyhook.” Recognized as one of the NBA’s Fifty Greatest Players, he set NBA all-time records in nine categories and remains the NBA’s All-Time Leading Scorer with 38,387 career points; 6,095 more points than Michael Jordan’s career scoring record. NCAA has entitled him one of the top 100 scholar athletes of the century. ESPN has called him the “Greatest Collegiate Player of the 20th Century” and Time magazine has titled him “History’s Greatest Player.”

Abdul-Jabbar’s career extends long beyond his status as a basketball icon. His legacy to society and his post basketball career include coaching or consulting positions with the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Clippers, Seattle Sonics and the United States Basketball League (USBL). His film credits include Bruce Lee’s Game of Death, Airplane and numerous TV cameos and interviews. A lifelong passion for history led to his authoring of twelve best-selling books on various historical subjects. His New York Times bestseller On the Shoulders of Giants, was produced as an award-winning documentary film. The film is being called a “documation” because it was done in 3D and chronicles the success of the Harlem Rens, the first black-owned and operated basketball team from Harlem, which won the first World Basketball Championships in 1939. It can be seen on Netflix. In addition his Emmy-award winning film, Kareem: Minority of One debuted last year as HBOs most watched sports documentary of all time.

In November 2016, President Obama awarded Abdul-Jabbar the Presidential Medal of Freedom the nation’s highest honor given to a civilian. He is a frequent contributor to various publications including the Washington Post and Time magazine where he shares his thoughts on current issues impacting the nation.

“Considered a leader in today’s struggle for equality, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s outreach and commitment to social justice continues to inspire people around the world,” said Marlene M. Johnson, NAFSA Executive Director and CEO. “Author of more than a dozen books, with topics ranging from forgotten African-American heroes to foreign wars, there is no question that NAFSA conference attendees will find him to be incredibly inspiring and thought-provoking.”

Abdul-Jabbar’s philanthropic efforts reflect his passion to educate society and give back to the sport that has given him so much. His outspokenness on issues affecting those most in need along with personal donations of time and resources demonstrate his continued efforts to improve lives. In 2010, he founded the Skyhook Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that mentors aspiring youths from underserved communities by combining sports and education programs.

The plenary session featuring Abdul-Jabbar is sponsored by The California State University. Learn more about the speakers as they are announced at

About the NAFSA Conference

NAFSA’s 69th Annual Conference and Expo is the world’s largest gathering of professionals in international education with an expected 10,000 attendees from more than 100 countries. The conference offers a wide array of learning and networking opportunities for international educators, and features more than 200 sessions and workshops focusing on the most crucial topics in international education and exchange and global learning. A major highlight of the conference is the International Education Expo Hall, which features more than 400 exhibitors representing hundreds of organizations from around the world, including colleges and universities; study abroad and intensive-English programs; embassies and government agencies; and more. The conference theme for 2017 is “Expanding Community, Strengthening Connections.” It will be held in Los Angeles, May 30–June 2, 2017. Learn more at


With more than 10,000 members, NAFSA: Association of International Educators is the world’s largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education. Visit us at To learn more about our advocacy efforts on behalf of international education, visit