Before Colin Kaepernick, This NBA Star Refused To Stand For The Anthem

mahmoud on the basketball court
March 6, 2023

When Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf first made it to the NBA he gained 30 lbs, lost playing time, and fell into a dark space. But then he discovered Islam, and that inspired him to get back into shape and find himself spiritually. 

But when Abdul-Rauf found Islam, America found a problem.

The Gulf Port, Mississippi, native grew up in an impoverished single-mother household. Mahmoud wanted to help bring light to those who shared the same experience, along with addressing the racism in America. So he would take a stance by not standing, or by simply praying during the national anthem before games.

Abdul-Rauf’s teammates turned their backs against him when he took his stance. The league blackballed him, his new house was burned down by the Ku Klux Klan, and he received countless death threats. The once beloved athlete again ended in poverty, eating only rice, butter, and beans. 

But that wasn’t the end of his story.

Though his NBA career was stripped away from him, new ventures blossomed. One public speaking opportunity turned into a dozen others and he also eventually became a development coach for hundreds of kids.

Reaching new heights of success till this day, Mahmoud found his true calling even in the face of backlash. We should all listen to our hearts because, if we don’t, we may miss out on what we’re truly meant to do in life.

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