Just in case folks forgot - today is the birthday of Jackie Robinson:
Jackie Robinson, who would have been 93 today, once said that "a life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives," Jackie Robinson said. By that measure, his own life was monumental.
In becoming the first African American to play Major League Baseball, he challenged racist assumptions about black inferiority and the logic for segregating the nation's pasttime.
After he walked away from the diamond - he won the National League MVP in 1949, and is considered one of the greatest second basemen ever - Robinson continued to be a pioneer. He was the first black commentator for a national sports broadcast, and the first black vice president of a major American firm.
Jackie is arguably the greatest athlete of all time representing those magical four letters:
Jack Roosevelt Robinson came to UCLA in 1939 and although he only stayed in Westwood for two years, he left behind one of the most powerful and proud legacies in UCLA's storied history. And soon, "Jackie" Robinson would change the world as well.
In his time at UCLA, the young man from Cairo, Georgia, won a national championship in track and field, two consecutive conference scoring titles as a basketball player, was an honorable mention All-American in football and played a little baseball, where he was so-so.
Well, he turned a little better than "so so" in baseball. Going back to football, Jackie made "an immediate impact on the '39 Bruin football team, averaging 12 yards per carry and 20 per punt return to lead the nation." You can read more about Jackie's UCLA legacy here and here.
Here is a mini bio on Jackie:
Jackie Robinson - Mini Bio (via BiographyChannel)
And here were Kareem's remarks at a ceremony honoring Rachel Robinson at UCLA Day on May 9, 2009:
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Growing up in New York, Rachel Robinson (via UCLA)
I wish folks at UCLA came out with new web products today in the form of video or other multimedia content that'd celebrate Jackie's legacy.
Anyway, Kareem's remarks about how he was inspired by Jackie are relevant today. As we are just less than 24 hours from NSD festivities, celebrating Jackie's legacy is a powerful and poignant reminder for those student athletes signing up to play for our Bruins, what a privilege and honor it is represent those four letters.