Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Falls Ill with a Stomach Bug on Big Dancing with the Stars Day
The 70-year-old former basketball star — who spent 20 seasons playing for Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA — got sick during the first press day for the long-running ABC dancing competition show, vomiting backstage before meeting the press.
A rep for the athlete told PEOPLE exclusively that Abdul-Jabbar “ate something that didn’t agree with him and got a little stomach bug,” adding “he is just fine now and looking forward to competing on the show.”
The show, which premieres later this month, will see 10 teams of athletes and pro dancers going head–to-head for the coveted Mirrorball trophy in a shortened four-week season.
Among the athletes joining Abdul-Jabbar? Former Olympic ice skaters Tonya Harding, Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu; Olympic snowboarder Jamie Anderson and luger Chris Mazdzer; Notre Dame’s national championship hero Arike Ogunbowale; former pro softball player Jennie Finch Daigle; retired professional baseball outfielder Johnny Damon; and Washington Redskins’ cornerback Josh Norman.
Abdul-Jabbar will team up with the show’s reigning champion Lindsay Arnold, who won last season with Jordan Fisher.
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At a towering 7’2″, Abdul-Jabbar still holds the record as the leading point scorer in basketball.
After retiring from basketball in 1989, Abdul-Jabbar has become an advocate for social justice issues and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2016.
Back in December 2008, Abdul-Jabbar was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia after experiencing hot flashes and sweats. As he told PEOPLE in 2009, his blood work revealed a “sky high” white blood cell count. He was then prescribed medication for the blood disease, on which he said he is expected to have a regular lifespan.
Later on Friday, Abdul-Jabbar appeared to be in good spirits as he celebrated his new DWTS gig.
“Don’t know if you guys heard but it’s true… I will be Dancing with the Stars,” he wrote, captioning a photo of he and Arnold, 24, taken from their GMA appearance. “I hope you will all support me as I take this journey.”
Season 26 of Dancing with the Stars premieres Monday, April 30 (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.
- With reporting by BRIANNE TRACY