Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon was born on January 21, 1963, in Lagos, Nigeria.
Amazingly, the future NBA legend didn't play basketball until he was a 15-year-old student at the Muslim Teachers College in Lagos, though he easily adapted with his coordination honed from playing soccer and handball.
Olajuwon emigrated to the United States to play basketball at the University of Houston. Mistakenly enrolled as "Akeem" but appropriately nicknamed "The Dream" for his eye-opening skills, Olajuwon teamed with future NBA All-Star Clyde Drexler on the high-flying "Phi Slamma Jamma" squads, leading the Cougars to three NCAA Final Four appearances.
After the 1983-84 season, in which he topped the NCAA with 13.5 rebounds per game, 5.6 blocked shots per game and a 67.5 percent field-goal percentage, Olajuwon was selected with the No. 1 pick in the 1984 NBA draft by the Houston Rockets.
By the 1993-94 season Olajuwon was at the peak of his career. His undefendable fade-away jump shot, combined with his powerful dunks and tenacious defense under the basket proved a nearly unstoppable combination. Posting a season average of 27.3 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks per game, Olajuwon was named the NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP). Facing star center Ewing and the New York Knicks in the NBA finals, Olajuwon won his first NBA title, defeating the Knicks in seven games. He was also named the MVP of the finals. The following season the Rockets, who were plagued by injuries throughout the regular season, surprised many by returning to the NBA finals, this time facing center Shaquille O'Neal and the Orlando Magic. Olajuwon dominated at both ends of the floor, and the Rockets took the seven-game series in four games. Olajuwon, once again named the NBA Finals MVP, ended the season with his second championship title.