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'Coffy' Star Pam Grier Almost Married Kareem Abdul-Jabbar but She Turned Down His Proposal — Here’s Why

Christell Fatima M. Tudtud
Jul 09, 2021
08:00 A.M.
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Pam Grier was a famous action star in the 1970s, but most people remember her for having an infamous romance with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Here's why she declined the basketball star's wedding proposal.


Pamela Grier is one of the greatest Hollywood actresses who remain popular to this day. The veteran star played many notable roles in several action films, including "Foxy" and "Coffy."

The 72-year-old youthful actress was known for her past relationships, which continue to fascinate fans. Her high-profile relationships include one with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a former NBA basketball star.

Pam Grier discuss subscription video-on-demand service BrownSugar.com at Build Studio in New York City. | Photo: Getty Images


In a recent interview with the New Yorker, Grier revealed why she did not tie the knot with Abdul-Jabbar. He was about to convert to Islam, and he wanted the actress to marry him under a few conditions. Grier said:

"I just said, 'Wow.'"

Abdul-Jabbar and Grier dated in the early '70s, and during that period, the latter traveled to the Philippines for work. The former LA Lakers star called during her 21st birthday and revealed a piece of surprising news.


The ex-athlete proposed to her, but his three-month timeline did not sit well with Grier, who happened to be a known activist and a feminist. He also provided the actress with books about his new religion.

She noted how prepared he was at that time. During their phone call, Abdul-Jabbar was already inside a temple, and he told Grier that if she would not commit to him and become a Muslim woman, he would marry another woman arranged for him.

Abdul-Jabbar's words made Grier consider that marriage served as some validation for most women. She shared that a person could become a basketball player's wife and bask in his hard-earned wealth.


However, she pointed out a downside to being a mere recipient of wealth. She shared that a person who gives something to another can easily take it away. "When you earn it, they can't [take it away]," she added.

She became an icon of blaxploitation, which consisted of cheap black action movies that made millions of dollars.

Having declined Abdul-Jabbar's outrageous marriage proposal, Grier has chosen the path to independence. But the actress was soon linked to more men.


She was rumored to have had a relationship with Wilt Chamberlain, who was also a basketball star. But Grier clarified in a recent interview that she never dated him.

She added that the former Harlem Globetrotter, who passed away in 1999, was "so sophisticated" to her. The actress was later involved with Richard Pryor.

But Grier soon ended their relationship, saying that the late comedian had drug addiction problems. Pryor, who died in 2005, had wanted to change, but he continued using drugs, believing it would make him funny.

Pam Grier attends the Sitges Film Festival 2018 at the Hotel Melia in Sitges, Spain. | Photo: Getty Images


She finally gained back her independence in the aftermath of failed relationships with famous men. Being free was something that the "Miami Vice" actress craved.

Her freedom allowed her to explore many opportunities in the entertainment world. Grier soon became an icon of blaxploitation, which consisted of cheap black action movies that made millions of dollars.

"Jackie Brown," "Sheba, Baby," and "Friday Foster" were among the films under her belt. Having worked extensively in the industry, she plans to make a biopic, but she hasn't found an actress for the role yet.