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Becoming Kareem: Growing Up on and Off the Court

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  431 ratings  ·  116 reviews
The first memoir for young readers by sports legend Kareem Abdul-JabbarAt one time, Lew Alcindor was just another kid from New York City with all the usual problems: He struggled with fitting in, with pleasing a strict father, and with overcoming shyness that made him feel socially awkward. But with a talent for basketball, and an unmatched team of supporters, Lew Alcindor ...more
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Published February 1st 2018 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (first published November 21st 2017)
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4.26  · 
Rating details
 ·  431 ratings  ·  116 reviews


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Sam Teru
May 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book thoroughly! It provided great insight into the diverse live of the NBA’s leading all-time scorer, but what I loved about this book was how it detailed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s life on and off the court. As an avid Basketball fan, I knew of Kareem as an outstanding center, but I did not know anything about his personal life. Kareem illustrates key moments in his life narrating to as early as his memories at a boarding school and continues through his NBA and post-NBA career.

One
...more
Caroline
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I try to be conservative with my five star reviews, but there were just so many good things about this book.

I thought there was a good balance between Kareem's experiences with racism and intolerance without becoming overly political. It is an unapologetic look at who he has become and why, without attacking people for their different religious feelings. He skillfully approaches his life with a "here I am" lens but explains that in an age of tolerance, that doesn't mean we all have to be the sam
...more
DaNae
I've had a number of students blow through this and I was happy to have it for the little sports enthusiasts, but I assumed it would not interest me much. I don't know a hook shot from a touch down. I couldn't have been more wrong. BECOMING KAREEM shines not just on young Lew Alcindor's formative years but parallels upheavals in American society. Most moving are his relationships with his coaches and his religious journey. Sports fans won't be disappointed, but all readers who finish this will k ...more
Shauna Yusko
Simply WOW!

So many books to pair this with! So many curriculum tie-ins. I think is must reading for everyone, not just sports fans.

And if I wasn't already in love with this book, he made it possible to pair with one of my favorite books from this year (Schomberg), quotes John Green, and Robert Frost.
Heidi
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-nonfiction, memoir
Fascinating account of Kareem's experiences growing up. He reads the book himself and does a great job of it.
Carsen Drennen
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book I can relate to his childhood and his political views also his athletic life also.
Lori
Excellent read for all ages. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar provides an honest, thoughtful, and inspiring memoir that helps the reader understand his personal journey in context of the larger societal issues during which he came of age. I especially liked how he detailed his personal growth throughout different stages of his life. Kids will easily relate to his recounting of finding his "superpower" in fourth grade, to struggling with bullies, to handling conflicts with parents and coaches, to his growing ...more
Caleb Harless
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is great. I like the fact Kareem wrote this book himself. It provides so much more detail about his childhood and basketball career. He doesn't brag about his career achievements although it could be easy to do being he's the all time leading scorer in the NBA. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes basketball or likes nonfiction books.
Shannon
Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court

I Picked Up This Book Because: Seemed like a good idea at the time.


I’m not sure what I was expecting. I knew Kareem was a basketball player and I knew I would be hearing about his life. I was surprised to learn what a deep thinker he is. How educated and well read. How he lived and dealt with the civil unrest going on in the country while trying to build a professional career.

I think hearing this in Kareem’s voice made it feel so much more
...more
Scottsdale Public Library
Growing up even I, a kid who never watched or played basketball (outside of P.E. that is), knew the name Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. I knew he was a superstar on the court, and dabbled in acting (if you haven’t yet seen the film classic, “Airplane” find a copy!) But this autobiography sheds so much light on the life events that transformed Lew Alcindor into the man he is today. Events which include: racism, social awkwardness, a strict upbringing, and a variety of individuals who’ve made a positive imp ...more
Marcie
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although not as focused on basketball as I was expecting this to be, Abdul-Jabbar brings up some really good points about growing up during the days of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Unfortunately, most of the points he raises are still concerns that exist today. I thought this was a good companion piece to The Hate U Give, with the bonus of not having as much sensitive content.
Chad
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really good memoir on finding an identity as a star athlete who was world famous even before he was in the NBA. Kareem writes as much about his personal development off the court as his achievements on it. Much respect for his honesty, integrity, and passion for more than just the game.
Ms.Young
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-2019
An excellent memoir for sports fans, and non-sports fans alike. This story tells a journey of discovering who you are, and how different people in your life can influence who you become.
Kathleen
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not a basketball fan at all, and I LOVED this book. I couldn't put it down.
Britt
I felt like I knew a bit of what Kareem presented in this book, but a lot of it was new. It felt disjointed at times, but overall I liked it for a middle school/early YA crowd. I definitely want to read his adult stuff, now, too.
Joseph
Nov 29, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What if I told you that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, did not play much basketball until middle school? What if I told you that until he was in the NBA, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s name was Lew Alcindor. You can find out these mind boggling facts and many more by reading Becoming Kareem, a compilation of memoirs written by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar himself, with help from Raymond Obstfeld.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was born in 1947 in Harlem, NY. His name was originally
...more
Great Books
May 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ages-12-13
Kareem offers an insightful view of his world as he comes of age during a pivotal time in our nation’s history. He shares how his “coaches” - on and off the court – helped to shape him into a remarkable individual. Reviewer 15
Bibi
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An inspiring book about a basket ball legend whose success is based on grit and determination. It was exciting to read how Kareem approached basketball and academic pursuit with the same fervour. Kareem was a straight A student who loved reading and had "a passion for writing that ran much deeper than I'd realized." And, he was equally committed to practices which will improve his game.

His childhood was interesting. To understand his growing-up years is to understand the times in which he was gr
...more
Tyler M.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has a story like no other. Growing up in New York, he was always the tallest kid no matter where he went. As the story progresses through his life, many changes start to happen. He was sent to a new school where he was then bullied for being the only kid of his kind at the school... black. I think the book was extremely well paced and spent enough time on each topic of his life. Especially before he got to be famous because not a lot of people know that much about his story. ...more
Sarah
Never in a million years did I think I would read the memoirs of an athlete, especially a male athlete who played basketball. But Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's winning of the Presidential Medal of Freedom got me more interested in him, and as I searched for an audiobook memoir this month, in which I'm trying to read all Arab and Muslim authors, I decided this might push me a bit out of my typical wheelhouse (Arab women) among this population. Plus, it's about sports, a category on the POPSUGAR reading c ...more
Momin
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was first interested in reading this book because I love the sport of basketball and it was written by one of the greatest players to every play in the NBA, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. I expected the book to be of his basketball career and all the trills that came with it. Although he did talk about that, Kareem talked way more about his development and major political and social issues around him like racism. I was let a little down at first, but as I started to read I just kept on going. I was hook ...more
Adamsaid2022m
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read the book called becoming kareem and if you do not know Kareem Abdul Jabbar is a retired professional basketball player. This book is more than about just basketball it is about his life growing up and racism on and off the court.
The book is very realistic and puts me in a time of a controversial 1960s being treated differently because of something he can not control. It shows this (page 55 Kareem) He was being made fun of for being a different color of skin by being called a racial slur
...more
Tommy Purcell
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was one of the best basketball players there ever was. Becoming Kareem is an auto-biography written about his life and his journey to the NBA. Growing up as a young black male was extremely hard at the time when racism was at its peak. Kareem was a great student in the classroom and an even better athlete. When he had gotten older he had great mentors, Muhammad Ali and Bruce Lee to name some and he had learned a lot from them. He changed his name and religion and his life cha ...more
Chalida
I really loved this book. I knew nothing about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar aside from his amazing basketball reputation, but his story is one to be shared. His discipline as a student, his constant reflecting about the changing world around him especially the need for more from his parents and wanting tools to deal with racism, his continual questioning and development of his identity. I have a new great respect for this man-- who actually preferred writing over basketball and often wished to be alone w ...more
Stephanie
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful. Abdul Jabbar is a terrific writer and I sailed through this. I loved the NYC parts, especially the black parts, which I didn't know growing up. I was stunned to read some of the horrific things he endured as a black kid in the 1960s.

I greatly appreciate his writing this book so honestly. I think African American kids of all ages will enjoy and identify with it. I hope that many white folks will learn from it.

I was a Knicks fan as a child and a Celtics fan in college, so it is hard f
...more
Anne
A memoir of basketball great Lewis Alcindor who changed his name when he became Muslim and is much better known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Young readers edition - does a good job focusing on his younger years, describing when he became aware of race and racial tensions. I think this would hold great appeal for struggling/reluctant readers. Brown boys especially would be able to relate to many of the things he says, even now - talks frankly about police and fear and how you have to act a certain way ...more
Donna Hines
How he came to become Kareem, his religious beliefs, his familial ideals, his life and his legacy it's all quite remarkable.
For those on the outside he never felt he fit in. He was bullied and ostracized and looking at the pics he was a man who towered over others at a very young age.
With compassion and heart he forged a path that is clearly unique to his own yet full of accomplishments that should be commended.
A true class act that has taught many the value of more than just a basketball on and
...more
Anita Routh
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written at a very accessible level for middle graders to junior high, this very clearly tells the growing up story of Lew Alcindor/Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, his thoughts, his feelings, and the very volatile times of the 60's. It is not watered down to make everything look peachy, but it also does not get in your face. I really, really enjoyed it and shows a good example of fortitude, commitment and just plain guts. My only very small complaint would be that some of the dates on the photographs don't ...more
Clwaddoups
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
I listened to Kareem read his book, which helped me more fully appreciate his perspective of growing up African American in the 50's and 60's - the decades covered. Joining in his realisation of the injustices African Americans have faced, face and will continue to face was a stronger experience than I have had before. I liked the central theme of choosing and becoming your name. Something Michelle Obama explored slightly differently in her book. Other themes besides basketball, are education, p ...more
Claire Vanseth
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading this book and am excited to share many of the lessons with students today. Kareem discusses the importance of having good mentors & coaches, what it means to be successful, and the historical events that shaped who he became. Many of the problems he brings up that African Americans were fighting against during the civil rights era still persist today. Finally, Kareem explores the issue of identity and what it means to be a successful black, Muslim man in America, a t ...more
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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, Jr. on April 16, 1947 in New York City, New York, United States) is an American former professional basketball player and current assistant coach. Typically referred to as Lew Alcindor in his younger days, he changed his name when he converted to Islam.