The former National Basketball Association champion Stephen Jackson has converted to Islam.
In a video posted to his Instagram page, the 42 year old shared the low key ceremony at Masijd Ibn Uthaymeen in Philadelphia under the guidance of an imam. He later described it as “one of the best days of his life.”
Jackson retired from the NBA in 2015 after an illustrious and tumultuous career spanning 17 years, playing 14 seasons in the NBA itself. He was a vital member of the San Antonio Spurs team which won the NBA championship in the 2002-3 season.
He is no stranger to adversary – raised by a single mother in Houston, Texas, he suffered tragedy early on when his half-brother was violently murdered at the age of just 16.
Despite these difficulties Jackson went on to carve out a successful career in the NBA playing for several teams including the Atlanta Hawks, Indiana Pacers, Golden State Warriors and the Milwaukee Bucks.
One of his former Golden State Warrior teammates Baron Davis described him as the “the leader of this team and if you ask anyone on this team, he is the heart and soul of this team.”
Recently Jackson spoke out with passion about the murder of his longtime friend and “twin” George Floyd at rallies and protest marches in Minneapolis, USA.
The killing sparked world wide condemnation of U.S. police brutality against African Americans and catalysed the Black Lives Matter movement. He used his fame to garner opportunities to speak publicly on television about the murder as well as posting several times on his personal Instagram page.
The pair had known each other since they were teenagers growing up in Houston’s Third Ward. Jackson said they were “going down the same road” and “in the same neighbourhoods, in the same cars, doing the same things.” The difference being that, as Jackson said, “he had more opportunity.”
Jackson’s move towards activism and Islam appear to be intertwined, in his own words: “If I can stand up for a change in the world and everybody coming together and standing together and making history with protests and knocking on some doors down to get social justice and change some of these laws – if the President ain’t going to do it, hey I’ll stand up and do it”.