Where are they now?: Sharmon Shah

September 28, 2010

Sharmon Shah (#33) aka Karim Abdul-Jabbar

For those of you outside of UCLA who aren’t familiar with the name Sharmon Shah, perhaps the name Karim Abdul-Jabbar brings back some memories. Karim, an LA native, was the featured RB for the UCLA Bruins from 1992 to 1995. During both the ‘94 and ‘95 seasons, he broke UCLA’s single season rushing record and was named MVP twice.

Though he left UCLA with one year of eligibility remaining, he ranks third in the Bruins all-time rushing leaders list with 3,030 yards on 582 carries with 16 TDs. He averaged an unprecedented 110.1 total yards per game. The 5’11 RB was drafted in the third round by the Miami Dolphins in the 1996 NFL draft. As a rookie, he did not disappoint breaking several Dolphins’ records and in 1997 he led the NFL with 16 total TDs. After the Dolphins traded Karim to the Browns in 1999, his NFL career was coming to an end. He did have brief stints with Cleveland (1999) and Indianapolis (2000), but five years in the NFL took a toll on his body. Karim had no cartilage in his knee. With a burning desire to return to the field, he looked to science for answers.

Karim was the subject of ethical debate for his excessive use of HGH. At one point, he was getting injected with the growth hormone every other week in an effort to regrow cartilage in his knee joint to enable him to play football again. However after numerous attempts of scraping away scar tissue and injecting HGH, Karim was never able to get his knee back to NFL shape. Fortunately though, it was repaired enough for Karim to remain active.

While Karim was garnering name recognition for his on-the-field performance, he had to deal with a significant legal battle.  Shah changed his name after his Imam renamed him Karim Abdul-Jabbar. Karim’s new name sparked controversy from basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who subsequently sued the NFL back for using his name. Kareem filed a lawsuit against Karim to stop using his name because there were too many similarities. Coincidentally, they both played for UCLA and wore the #33 jersey. The lawsuit sought damages for brand recognition claiming Karim was making significant profits and sponging off the basketball legends heralded name. Eventually the basketball great won a court order that required Karim to drop the “Abdul-Jabbar” from his jerseys. In 2000, Karim changed his name to Abdul-Karim al-Jabbar, but everyone still calls him Karim.

After a stellar college career and a solid 5 years in the NFL, Karim is finding solace in his new endeavor, personal training. If you need to shed some weight, you can find Karim in Washington D.C.’s The Sports Club/LA, as he is the Elite Advantage head trainer for the state-of-the-art downtown gym.

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