Today, Hall-of-Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar kicked off his service as a Global Cultural Ambassador for the U.S. Department of State in Salvador, Brazil.
"I didn't expect to see such a big city here in this part of Brazil. I heard about Rio de Janeiro and I've been to Sao Paulo on my first trip to Brazil. But I didn't know they had big cities out here on the coast. It's quite a place," said Abdul-Jabbar.
Meeting in a community center in the recently pacified favela, Nordeste de Amaralina, Abdul-Jabbar stressed the importance of education as a means of empowerment both within Brazil and beyond.
"It was very rewarding for me today to talk to the young people about their education because a lot of them didn't understand how important it is. So I was happy to remind them that their education will supplement everything that they try to do as athletes and they seemed to be open to it. They asked really interesting questions and had an open mind it seemed to what I was saying," said Abdul-Jabbar.
Throughout Brazil, government officials and local partners are working together to pacify favelas -- or communities -- establishing local police stations to rid these communities of drugs and violence.
Abdul-Jabbar also traveled to Calabar, another favela that has been pacified for the last nine months, the first in Salvador. After discussing the importance of education and the opportunities it provides, Abdul-Jabbar hit the basketball court to shoot hoops with the kids.
"Playing basketball with the young people like this is something that reminds me of when I was a kid. It really reminds me of when I was in grade school and high school and tried to learn the game and all of my ambitions were right out there for everybody to see," Abdul-Jabbar said.
Get updates from the road, and follow along on Twitter as Cultural Ambassador Kareem Abdul-Jabbar travels to Salvador and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.