Salaam took up track during his junior year of high school as a way to stay in shape for football. After not advancing to the finals of NCAA’s during his freshman year, he revealed his true talent his sophomore year with a top 5 finish at NCAA Outdoors and a top 10 finish at USA Outdoors. It was during his junior year that Salaam turned heads with his win at the NCAA Indoor 200m in a then world leading time of 20.41. By the end of 2011, Salaam once again finished in the top-10 at USA Outdoors and announced that he would forgo his final year of eligibility to turn pro. Salaam followed his college coach, Matt Kane, to Tuscaloosa, Ala. to begin his career as a professional. Salaam didn’t take up track until his junior year of high school as a means to stay in shape for football. Salaam’s father passed away when he was four-years-old and he was raised by a single mother. In high school, the state was about to move him to a foster home when Kevin and Lisa Peterson, the parents of a football teammate, volunteered to become his foster parents. When Salaam turned 18 he moved back in with his mother and stepfather, and he now considers himself to have two sets of parents. Full name is Rakieem “Mookie” Mustafa Allah Salaam. Says that his nickname “Mookie” given by his mother is defined as someone who acts out of character, who’s always happy, funny and does their own thing. Salaam’s father was a distance runner at Grambling State and his grandfather was an elite sprinter.