11:15am PT by Chris Gardner
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Donates Safety Goggles to UCLA Health to Aid Coronavirus Fight
Basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has stepped up to help UCLA health care workers with one of the pandemic's most vital resources — personal protective equipment.
Abdul-Jabbar, a THR contributor who also serves as a UCLA Health Ambassador, donated 900 pairs of safety goggles to UCLA Health. He showed up Tuesday to personally drop off several dozen boxes of goggles. Dr. Eric Esrailian — a leading UCLA Health physician who has helped spearhead efforts to raise funds for supplies, equipment and research during the COVID-19 crisis — accepted the donation. Abdul-Jabbar made goggles famous during his NBA days.
The 72-year-old Lakers legend opened up briefly in a video released in conjunction with the announcement. "I want to thank all the doctors and nurses at UCLA for all that they are doing. You guys are awesome, risking your lives to help the public," he said in the one-minute clip. "I'm going to use my influence and have my team source quality medical products such as protective eyewear goggles like these," he adds while putting on a pair of clear eyewear. "You guys should have the best equipment while you are on the front line."
Esrailian, who also serves as chief of the Vatche & Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases, director of the Melvin & Bren Simon Digestive Diseases Center and Lincy Foundation chair in Clinical Gastroenterology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, created two COVID-19 funds — one for patients and another for first responders.
"On behalf of UCLA Health, I am honored and grateful to accept the generous donation of protective goggles from our friend, the legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar," Esrailian said. "We are incredibly grateful for the recent outpouring of financial support and donations of supplies during this unprecedented time. #TeamLA is stronger than ever before thanks to all of you, and we will get through this together."
The donation is the latest update from Abdul-Jabbar in the coronavirus pandemic. He posted a tweet March 29 offering encouragement and suggestions to his followers in how to pass the time with positive activities like working on intellect, games, getting in shape and staying in touch.
Let’s work on improving ourselves and focus on staying positive and healthy. I’m proud to represent ?@UCLAHealth? and I want to share some advice Coach use to give us.
Coach Wooden used to always say: “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do” pic.twitter.com/4hTIzrAcuC
— Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (@kaj33) March 29, 2020