He has tackled the NBA, acted on both the big and small screen, been a basketball coach, became a best-selling author, served as a cultural ambassador for the United States, and battled cancer. Now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a children’s author.
The leading scorer in NBA history has written the children’s book, Sasquatch in the Paint, the first book in a trilogy. Abdul-Jabbar says this book is about “life lessons.” He adds, “It’s kids growing up. It’s based on a lot of the experiences I had growing up, trying to make that transition from being a child to being an adult. Going through adolescence. The main character in the book, Theo, is in the eighth grade. He’s just had a growth spurt, he’s not very good at playing basketball, but because he’s tall, everybody expects him to be a dominant player.”
The book doesn’t just deal with growth spurts and growing up. Abdul-Jabbar says the book also teaches kids that it’s cool to be smart. “Theo, the main character, is on the academic team. He’s smart. Books just don’t sit in the corner in his room. That was one message I want to get across. Being smart is cool,” said Abdul-Jabbar. He wants kids, especially minority kids, to know that they can be successful in other things other than athletics, music, or acting.
Abdul-Jabbar has been on a book tour since the release of Sasquatch in the Paint. Part of his tour has been visiting military families. His first stop was Fort Bragg, a place close to his heart. From 1941 – 1943 his father, Ferdinand Alcindor, Sr., was assigned to the 16th Field Artillery Battalion at Fort Bragg. On Thursday, Abdul-Jabbar spoke with students, parents, and teachers on behalf of Reading Is Fundamental, the nonprofit children’s literacy organization, at the Army post.
One celebrity fan who recommends Abdul-Jabbar’s book is Billy Crystal.
With Kareem who wrote a great book for kids Sasquatch in the Paint. Best and most thoughtful NBA player ever pic.twitter.com/8oTXmiuZgR
— Billy Crystal (@BillyCrystal) September 12, 2013
Below you can watch a video of Abdul-Jabbar discussing Sasquatch in the Paint.
This isn’t Abdul-Jabbar’s first foray into children’s literature. He previously wrote What Color Is My World?, a book about black inventors that read more like a history book. What Color Is My World? received an N.A.A.C.P. Image Award.