Why Kareem Abdul-Jabbar just sold a collection featuring 4 Lakers rings for nearly $3 million

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar officially has four fewer NBA championship rings in his personal collection. And the decision was his choice.

A 234-item collection of memorabilia from the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, including four of his six rings, went up for auction Sunday and collectively brought in $2,947,872.25, per ESPN.

Very little of that money will end up Abdul-Jabbar’s pocket. Rather, the Los Angeles Lakers Hall of Famer plans to put most of the proceeds into his Skyhook Foundation, a charity devoted to giving kids in underserved communities access to STEM educational opportunities.

The charity’s mission statement: “Give Kids a Shot that Can’t be Blocked.”

Abdul-Jabbar’s reasoning behind his decision, via ESPN:

"When it comes to choosing between storing a championship ring or trophy in a room or providing kids with an opportunity to change their lives, the choice is pretty simple: Sell it all," Abdul-Jabbar wrote last year about why he's auctioning off valuables from his sports history.

"Looking back on what I have done with my life, instead of gazing at the sparkle of jewels or gold plating celebrating something I did a long time ago, I'd rather look into the delighted face of a child holding their first caterpillar and think about what I might be doing for their future. That's a history that has no price."

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar through the years
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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar through the years
25 MAR 1967: Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) (33) of UCLA takes a breather during the Division 1 basketball championship held in Louisville, KY. UCLA defeated Dayton 79-64 for the national title..� Rich Clarkson
UCLA center Lew Alcindor, prior to his 1971 name change to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, acknowledges cheering teammates and fans following the Bruins' victory over the No. 1-ranked Houston Cougars (101-69), which advances them to the Final Four championship game against North Carolina. The 7-foot 2-inch junior center scored 19 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in the semifinal game held at the Astrodome.
(Original Caption) 1974- Close up of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, basketball player for the Milwaukee Bucks smiling in his uniform. Color slide.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, number 33 for the Milwaukee Bucks, holds the basketball during a game at Madison Square Garden. (Photo by mary delaney cooke/Corbis via Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE - 1970: Kareem Abdul Jabbar #33 of the Milwaukee Bucks shoots during the 1970 season at the MECCA Arena in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1970 NBAE (Photo by Vernon Biever/NBAE via Getty Images)
INGLEWOOD, CA - 1985: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates the 1985 NBA Championship with owner Jerry Buss after the NBA Finals in1985 at the Forum in Inglewood, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at Sports Illustrated's 'Sportsman of the Year' award ceremony at the Beacon Theater, in New York City. 12/12/2000. Photo: Evan Agostini/Getty Images
Woody Harrelson and Kareem Abdul Jabbar arriving at the 2002 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show at Lexington Avenue Armory in New York City. November 14, 2002. Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images.
LOS ANGELES - DECEMBER 9: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and his son attend the Los Angeles Lakers against the New York Knicks game during the first half of action at Staples Center December 9, 2003 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Catherine Steenkeste/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRAURY 12: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O'Neal pose for photos during the American Express Celebrates the Rewarding Life of Earvin Johnson event on February 12, 2004 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 17: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar watches the Detroit Pistons versus the New York Knicks on February 17, 2004 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Former U.S. basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (C), wearing a black robe and white Moslem skull-cap, stands barefoot among Palestinian worshippers while praying in the al-Aqsa mosque July 11. Jabbar, who converted to Islam while in the NBA and who is in Israel for a streetball tournament, later visited the Wailing Wall, Judaism's holiest site.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar addresses a news conference at the Toyota Sports Center in Los Angeles, California September 6, 2005. Abdul-Jabbar announced that Los Angeles Lakers has hired him as special assistant coach. Abdul-Jabbar was a member of the Lakers from 1975 to 1989. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni MA/JJ
Fromer Milwaukee Bucks center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaks to fans after his jersey number 33 was retired by the Bucks at halftime of an NBA basketball game between the Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin November 21, 2007. Jabbar played for the Bucks from 1969-75, then played for the Lakers. REUTERS/Allen Fredrickson (UNITED STATES)
NBA basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar watches a video during a news conference to introduce the friendly game between Regal FC Barcelona and the LA Lakers, which will be played on October 7, at the Palau Blaugrana in Barcelona June 1, 2010. REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino (SPAIN - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Former NBA star and U.S. cultural ambassador Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (C) teaches children to play basketball during a visit to the basketball project at the Alemao slum in Rio de Janeiro January 26, 2012. Abdul-Jabbar has been named global cultural ambassador by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, giving the NBA Hall of Famer and all-time scoring leader the chance to promote the importance of education, social and racial tolerance and cultural understanding. REUTERS/Ana Carolina Fernandes (BRAZIL - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL SOCIETY)
Former Los Angeles Lakers basketball player and NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar smiles as he is interviewed after a bronze statue of himself (rear) was unveiled in Star Plaza, outside Staples Center in Los Angeles November 16, 2012. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Actor Harrison Ford (R) stands with Los Angeles Lakers legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar (L) before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the MLB National League baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres in Los Angeles, April 15, 2013. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT SPORT BASEBALL BASKETBALL TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
NBA basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabaar waves before speaking on the final night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
U.S. President Barack Obama awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (L) in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., November 22, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria TPX IMAGE OF THE DAY
Nov 20, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Kareem Abdul Jabbar acknowledges the crowd during a game between the UNLV Runnin' Rebels and the Rice Owls at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
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The biggest sellers of Abdul-Jabbar’s collection were unsurprisingly the championship rings, which reportedly had starting bids ranging between $60,000 and $65,000. The four rings were from 1980 (sold for $245,000), 1985 ($343,700), 1987 ($398,937.50, the highest of the group) and 1988 ($245,000).

The other high seller was reportedly a signed ball from Abdul-Jabbar’s final regular season game in 1989, selling for $270,050. Three of his MVP trophies also sold for six figures.

INGLEWOOD, CA - JANUARY 22: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar #33 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots the ball against the New York Knicks on January 22, 1988 at The Forum in Inglewood, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1988 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Abdul-Jabbar emphasized in his explanation that he’s on “a solid financial path” and was not selling any of these items because he was in financial trouble. The sacrifice certainly seemed to impress the Lakers’ current superstar, LeBron James.

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