(WASHINGTON) — The state department has a new global cultural ambassador: Los Angeles Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The towering Hall of Famer said tackling his new position will be like following in the footsteps of Louis Armstrong, one of his heroes. Armstrong traveled the globe as a goodwill ambassador under President John F. Kennedy.
Secretary Hillary Clinton said Abdul-Jabbar exemplifies a great story, “from the streets of Harlem, to the NBA, now with all the work you’re doing with your foundation to give back.”
Abdul-Jabbar presented Clinton with a signed Lakers jersey, emblazoned with the number he wore, 33, when he played center for the NBA team from 1975-1989. He also gave the secretary a copy of What Color Is My World?, a children’s book on the history of African-American inventors, which he co-authored.
The former NBA player will travel to Brazil later this month to meet with underprivileged youth, and talk with them about the importance of education, racial tolerance, and sports as a tool for empowerment.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Holly Yan and Nadeem Muaddi, CNN
Harry Boomer, CNN
Lorenzo D'Agostino and Hilary Clarke, CNN