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HomeSportThe Secret Life of Habiba Abdul Jabbar: Kareem Abdul Jabbar's Former Wife

The Secret Life of Habiba Abdul Jabbar: Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s Former Wife

Kareem Abdul Jabbar is a legend in the world of basketball, known for his towering presence and unparalleled skills on the court. Yet, behind the spotlight lies a lesser-known figure, Habiba Abdul Jabbar, his former wife. While Kareem’s name resonates widely, Habiba’s story remains less well-known.

In this article, we will delve into Habiba Abdul Jabbar’s experiences, challenges, and contributions. By uncovering the untold truth of her life, we highlight a narrative that is often overlooked but undoubtedly significant in the broader tale of Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

Who Is Habiba Abdul Jabbar?

Habiba Abdul Jabbar, born Janice Brown, is primarily known as the former wife of NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. However, her story goes beyond this association. Here’s what we know about her:

Relationship with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

  • Meeting and Marriage: They met during Kareem’s senior year at UCLA and married in 1971.
  • Children: They had three children together: Habiba Abdul Jabbar, Sultana, and Kareem Jr.
  • Divorce: They divorced in 1978 after facing challenges adjusting to family life.


  • Conversion to Islam: Born as Janice Brown, she converted to Islam upon marrying Kareem and took the name Habiba.
  • Marriage Details: Their wedding was held in a mosque led by Hamas Abdul-Khalis, a leader of the Hanafi movement.


Habiba and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar got married on May 28, 1971, in Washington, DC. Before their marriage, Habiba converted to Islam, a significant step for her. Their marriage was conducted in a mosque by Hamas Abdul-Khalis, a leader of the Hanafi movement.

Wedding Day Challenges

On their wedding day, Habiba’s parents, who were Catholic, were not allowed inside the mosque where the wedding took place because only Muslims were permitted inside. This exclusion was a sad moment for Habiba’s parents, who had traveled from New York to witness their daughter’s wedding.

Kareem, who had converted to Islam only a few years earlier, didn’t understand why Habiba’s parents couldn’t attend, leading to early tensions in their marriage. However, Kareem worked hard to mend the relationship with Habiba’s family, even acknowledging them on television to show respect.

Marital Life

After their marriage, Habiba and Kareem had three children:

  • Habiba Abdul Jabbar Jr.: Born in 1972 while Kareem was studying Arabic at Harvard. She grew up to become a journalist, writing for major platforms like the Huffington Post.
  • Kareem Jr.: Born in 1976, he followed in his father’s footsteps by playing basketball and even tried acting, securing a role in the movie “Weapons.”
  • Sultana: Born in 1979, she worked with the Los Angeles Lakers as an assistant in 2008 before becoming an administrative assistant at the Children’s Institute Inc.


Kareem and Habiba’s marriage faced multiple challenges. Their wedding day exclusion of Habiba’s parents set a difficult tone, and Kareem’s newness to Islam meant he didn’t realize the implications until after the wedding. Over the years, Kareem tried to improve relations with Habiba’s family by acknowledging them publicly.

Marital Struggles

  • Tensions in the Muslim Community: Kareem suffered migraines due to tensions within the Muslim community, including threats against his life and violent incidents involving his mentor’s family.
  • Separation and Cheryl Pistono: Kareem and Habiba stopped living together in 1973 but continued to have children until 1979. During this time, Kareem became close to Cheryl Pistono, who influenced his decision to divorce Habiba. They divorced in 1978.

Reasons for Divorce

While the exact reasons behind their divorce in 1978 haven’t been explicitly confirmed by Kareem and Habiba, several factors are often cited:

  • Difficulties Adjusting to Family Life: Kareem struggled to balance his basketball career with family life.
  • Religious Differences: The exclusion of Habiba’s parents from the wedding caused early tensions.
  • Personal Challenges: Kareem’s migraines and stress from community conflicts impacted their marriage.
  • Youth: Kareem was only 24 when they married, and some suggest he might not have been fully ready for such a commitment.
  • Influence of Cheryl Pistono: She played a role in Kareem’s decision to divorce, though their relationship also ended in 1984.

It’s important to remember that these are primarily speculations and reports, and the valid reasons behind the divorce remain private. Both individuals have chosen not to elaborate on the details publicly.


Delving into the life of Habiba Abdul Jabbar reveals a fascinating and often overlooked aspect of Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s story. By exploring her experiences, we gain insight into the complexities of their relationship and the challenges she faced.

Despite being in the shadow of her famous ex-husband, Habiba’s story stands on its own, highlighting her resilience and strength. By shedding light on her untold story, we honor her contributions and enrich our understanding of the broader context surrounding Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s life.


What is Habiba Abdul Jabbar renowned for?

Habiba Abdul-Jabbar gained fame as the former spouse of NBA champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

How long was Habiba Abdul-Jabbar married?

Habiba Abdul-Jabbar was married to Kareem for seven years, from 1971 to 1978.

Is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar still married?

Following his separation from Habiba, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has maintained privacy regarding his marital status, suggesting he remains unmarried.

Does Habiba Abdul-Jabbar have any children?

Yes, Habiba Abdul-Jabbar is the proud mother of three children: Habiba, Sultana, and Kareem Jr.

Also Read About: Who is Dak Prescott’s Father, Nathaniel Prescott?

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