Kareem Abdul Jabbar wrote that the decision to sell a large collection of memorabilia was “pretty simple” when he considered how the money could be used to benefit children. Now his Skyhook Foundation has nearly $3 million to continue its efforts to “give kids a shot that can’t be blocked.”
Abdul-Jabbar put 234 pieces of memorabilia from his legendary career up for sale through Goldin Auctions, and the lots sold for $2,947,872.25, according to ESPN. Abdul-Jabbar said “much of the proceeds” will go to his Skyhook Foundation charity, which helps children learn about science, technology, engineering and math.
The centerpieces of the collection were four of Abdul-Jabbar’s Los Angeles Lakers championship rings from the 1980s. His 1987 title ring was the highest-selling item in the entire collection, fetching $398,937.50.
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Abdul-Jabbar’s 1985 ring had the next highest bid at $343,700, while his rings from 1980 and 1988 sold for $245,500 each.
An autographed basketball from Abdul-Jabbar’s final regular-season NBA game in 1989 sold for $270,050. Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA MVP trophies from 1972, 1974 and 1976 also sold for six figures at over $120,000 each.
In a post on the Goldin Auctions website from September, the 71-year-old Abdul-Jabbar wrote that he was “on a solid financial path” and not auctioning the collection for his own gain. “There is a long list of athletes who have sold their prized memorabilia in order to keep the debt collectors at bay. Fortunately, that’s not the case for me.”
Instead he chose to auction the lot to benefit his charity.
“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.
“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.”
The entire collection of memorabilia, with winning bids, can be browsed on the Goldin Auction website here.
Follow Matt Eppers on Twitter @meppers_.