To Kareem Abdul Jabbar : ( not shared with the public )
As a child I’ve watched you walk past my school, St. Paul the Apostle, every morning , and I confess I’ve even taunted you as you walked by with ‘ Little Louie” as did other 6th, 7th and 8th graders at the time. Our school, as with many NYC catholic grade school at the time, didn’t have a gym so we walked around the corner to Power Memorial’s gym where we held our CYO Junior Varsity and Varsity basketball practices and yes, waited impatiently while you high-schooler’sfinished you drills. My dad coached the St. Pauls boys teams and I was there every week during the season. You looked awkward then, tall and lanky, a preying mantis among ants as I remember. I didn’t know much about the high school rivalries but pops made me go to the Power Memorial and Rice High School game where there was someone, the center, almost as tall as you playing. I remember enjoying the match up, because it was the first time I’d seen someone about your height play against you. I don’t remember who won, probably Power, but is was just fun being in around all that energy.
I graduated from St. Paul's and then went to Charles Evans Hughes High School, enough of this Catholic school stuff.. In 1968 I became Muslim, I was in the 10th grade. The community of 'orthodox' Muslims was in Brooklyn, New York and it was called Dar ul Islam.
I know that at some point you had the occasion to visit Ya'seen Mosque, in Brooklyn, that was our main place of worship. I was not able to be there that day but there was 'buzz' about you for weeks after.
Anyway the reason I'm even writing these thoughts down in the hopes that you will know that I've always look at your example, not as a star or hero, but just as someone with an even, not pretentious, but even, uncomplicated way to be Muslim in America, and for that I thank you.