Born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr. to Cora Lillian and Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Sr., a transit police officer who studied trombone at the Juilliard School of Music. He grows up in Harlem.
Alcindor works as a journalist by participating in the Harlem Youth Action Project. At one point, he covers a news conference held by Martin Luther King Jr. He also leads New York’s Power Memorial high school basketball team to three straight championship titles.
At UCLA under Coach John Wooden, Lew Alcindor wins his first of three collegiate national titles and is so dominant that the NCAA bans the dunk. He majored in history at UCLA, graduating in 1969.
With his patented skyhook, he leads the Milwaukee Bucks to their first NBA title only two years after team finished in last place. Having converted to Islam, he changes his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Feeling isolated in Milwaukee, Abdul-Jabbar requests a trade and is sent to the Los Angeles Lakers. After failing to make the playoffs, Lakers turn into an immediate contender before winning the 1979-1980 NBA title.
Abdul-Jabbar plays co-pilot Roger Murdock in the satirical disaster film “Airplane!” The film is a critical and commercial hit, and Abdul-Jabbar earns raves for playing himself, merely moonlighting as a co-pilot.
He apologizes to his teammates after his poor performance in Game 1 of NBA Finals. The Lakers go on to win the title, and Abdul-Jabbar is named the series’ most valuable player.
Abdul-Jabbar, 42, retires with six championships, six MVP awards and 38,387 points. He still holds the record for most points scored in NBA history.
He meets Deborah Morales in Los Angeles International Airport, and they become friends. In 2005, she would become his manager and key adviser.
Long frustrated at not being able to land an NBA head coaching post, Abdul-Jabbar interviews for a Columbia University job. He’s passed over, with the position going to Villanova assistant Joe Jones.
In “Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII's Forgotten Heroes,” Abdul-Jabbar and co-author Anthony Walton wrote about the first all-black battalion to see combat during World War II.
Abdul-Jabbar makes his first appearance on “The Colbert Report,” playing bass in a sketch called “HipHopKetball II: The ReJazzebration Remix ’06.” He would return to the show in 2008 and for Stephen Colbert’s farewell in 2014.
He releases the documentary “On the Shoulders of Giants: The Story of the Greatest Basketball Team You Never Heard Of,” based on a section of Abdul-Jabbar’s book, directed by Morales and featuring Spike Lee, Maya Angelou, Jerry West and Abdul-Jabbar.
Esquire.com publishes “20 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Was 30,” in which Abdul-Jabbar talks about regretting how he dealt with the media and the public. In the essay, calls himself a “secret nerd.”
After writing a column in Time on the Charlie Hebdo killings, Abdul-Jabbar is criticized by Fox news commentator Bill O’Reilly. Abdul-Jabbar goes on “Meet the Press” to explain that O’Reilly is wrong to blame Muslims for the terror attacks.
Abdul-Jabbar and President Obama speak after a White House news conference meant to launch a new health care initiative.