While in college during the 1960s, Jabbar's interest in humanity and in his own spirituality matured along with his basketball skills. It was a time of social change and sometimes of civil unrest, when African Americans in the United States spoke out and demanded proper equality. In 1968 many African American athletes refused to participate in the Olympic games in Mexico City as a way of protesting for civil rights. Jabbar, searching for peace of soul, turned to the Islamic religion of the Middle East. Around that same time He took part in a ceremony called Shahada by which he adopted an Islamic name, calling himself Kareem. He spent the summer of 1968 working with a youth program in Harlem, and at the end of the season he embraced Islam one step further by adopting Jabbar as his surname.
Jabbar's journey of personal growth followed other avenues as well after he made the acquaintance of the late actor Bruce Lee who was also a renowned marital arts experts. Jabbar met Lee through a studio called the New York Akikai. Beginning in 1967 Jabbar began to train with Lee, and the two worked together until Lee's untimely death in 1973. The two had also started shooting a movie, called Game of Death, but the shooting was suspended when Lee died. Jabbar's life was enriched in many ways by his association with Lee, both spiritually and professionally. The speed and flexibility that he developed in working with such a masterful martial artist went a long way in expanding the impact of Jabbar's game skills.
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