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*Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was born on this date in 1969. He is a Black former professional basketball player and activist.
Born Chris Jackson in Gulfport, Mississippi, the is the son of Jacqueline Jackson. He was raised in a single-parent family and his two brothers, Omar and David. His childhood was characterized by poverty, as there were times when he and his brothers could not have proper nutrition. Abdul-Rauf missed the fourth grade and was later placed in special education classes.
Having never played an organized game, Abdul-Rauf was discovered by a middle-school girls coach in Gulfport, MS, during lunch on the playground. Recognizing his skill, she convinced his mother to play organized basketball. He suffered from a moderate form of Tourette syndrome, a condition that went undiagnosed until he was 17. Abdul-Rauf overcame difficulties to become a basketball prodigy for Gulfport High School. In his senior season in high school, he averaged 29.9 points and 5.7 assists per game and was called up to the McDonald's All-American Game. He was also named Mississippi Mr. Basketball twice, in 1987 and 1988.
Abdul-Rauf was a standout freshman for LSU, setting the scoring record for a freshman with 53 points against Florida. He appeared in 32 games in his freshman season, setting the NCAA record for points by a freshman (965) and points per game by a freshman (30.2). He was named SEC Player of the Year and First-team All-American. In his sophomore season, he was named SEC Player of the Year and First-team All-American for the second year.
Abdul-Rauf was the third pick in the 1990 National Basketball Association draft by the Denver Nuggets. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team in his first season. Abdul-Rauf converted to Islam in 1991 and led the league in free throw percentage in the 1993–94 and 1995–96 seasons. His free throw percentage of .956 in 1993–94 is the third-highest seasonal percentage in the history of the NBA. He played with Denver until 1996 and was a key player, winning the NBA Most Improved Player Award in 1993.
Abdul-Rauf created controversy during his NBA career when he refused to stand for the national anthem as a sign of protest and called the flag of the United States a symbol of oppression. In June 1996, he was traded to the Sacramento Kings. He has played in the Turkish Basketball League, the Vancouver Grizzlies, the Russian Basketball Super League, the Saudi Basketball League, and the Japan League. He is currently playing in the BIG3 basketball league for the Three-Headed Monsters team. Abdul-Rauf's #35 jersey was retired by Louisiana State University in 2020. In 2022, Colin Kaepernick Productions released a documentary about his life.