Abdi was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He attended the University of Oregon as an undergraduate and was an activist in student leftist politics. He obtained his graduate degree from UCLA and Medical degree from the University of Michigan. After completing his residency in surgery in New York, he has been in practice with the Southern California Permanente Medical Group and Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles for over twenty years. Dr. Sherif is an avid soccer enthusiast and still plays, though not as well as in his younger days.
His interests include education and public health. Favorite groups include The Fregenet Foundation and Doctors without Borders.