Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, one of basketball’s all-time greatest players, announced Tuesday morning that he has cancer. The sports legend made the public disclosure nearly a year after being diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia.
“Having lost one of my closest friends to a different, highly aggressive form of leukemia, I knew how serious my diagnosis was,” said Abdul-Jabbar, 62. “My own life expectancy became a question mark.”
Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, won five championships with the Los Angeles Lakers before retiring in 1989. He was diagnosed with CML in December 2008 and is being treated with a medicine that targets the abnormal protein that causes his leukemia. With treatment, Abdul-Jabbar, who currently is a coach with the Lakers, is expected to live a full, active life.
The intensely private Abdul-Jabbar, a father of five, said he came forward after learning many patients don’t regularly take their medication and skip appointments to the doctor.
“I’m telling my story to encourage fellow patients to take charge of their health,” he said. “Work closely with your doctor, monitor your disease and, above all, take your medicine.”