Kareem Abdul-Jabbar revealed he had prostate cancer and bypass surgery in a magazine article he wrote about health risks faced by blacks.
Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s career director, gave no other details about the prostate cancer in the piece he wrote for WebMD that first appeared on Wednesday. A publicist for Abdul-Jabbar, 73, said this is the first time he has spoken about his prostate cancer.
Abdul-Jabbar, who was the starting point for the Lakers’ five NBA champion teams in the 1980s and led UCLA to three national championships in the 1960s, was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia in 2008.
In his article entitled “Black Lives Matter,” Abdul-Jabbar writes that blacks are at higher risk for heart problems and cancer. He said he has been able to get better care than many blacks, partly because of his celebrity and also because two sons work in healthcare.
Abdul-Jabbar wrote that the issue of inadequate health care for black people is a “more insidious and damaging threat” to the community than police brutality. Citing the COVID-19 pandemic as an example, he writes that the death rate among black people is 3.6 times higher than among whites.
Part of that, he thinks, is because of the underlying conditions that black people experience as a result of systemic racism.
“Having less education and less funding means less chance of competing for higher education, which means there is less chance of better paying jobs,” he wrote.