Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar put hundreds of pieces of memorabilia — including four of his NBA championship rings — up for auction last week. The auction was handled by Goldin Auctions, and when the auction concluded, he had raised $2.8 million for his Skyhook Foundation, which raises money for students to learn science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
“When it comes to choosing between storing a championship ring or trophy in a room, or providing kids with an opportunity to change their lives, the choice is pretty simple. Sell it all,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote about the decision.
Some of the other items up for auction included All-Star rings that Abdul-Jabbar earned over his prolific career, a game-used, signed basketball, and Abdul-Jabbar’s MVP trophy from 1975-76. The basketball memorabilia went for a minimum of $35,000, while the 1985 championship ring’s minimum bid was $65,000. His 1987 ring fetched the highest price, selling for just under $400,000 ($398,937.50).
“Looking back on what I have done with my life, instead of gazing at the sparkle of jewels or gold plating celebrating something I did a long time ago, I’d rather look into the delighted face of a child holding their first caterpillar and think about what I might be doing for their future,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote. “That’s a history that has no price.”
Indeed, Abdul-Jabbar’s post-basketball career has been full of philanthropy. He’s been awarded a Double Helix Medal for his efforts in raising awareness for cancer research, and he’s was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016 by then-President Barack Obama. This particular sale is a huge act of kindness, but it’s far from being out of character for Abdul-Jabbar.