Yao Ming of China became basketball’s most unlikely new celebrity athlete in 2002 when he joined the Houston Rockets. The first foreign athlete ever to become a number-one draft pick in the NBA, Yao stands seven-foot, five inches tall, and proved to be a surprisingly quick and graceful player during his rookie season.
Yao’s charisma, unflagging spirit, and patriotism have made him extremely popular with many Chinese. He has been successful with his message for change.
The NBA star Yao Ming was born on September 12, 1980, in Shanghai, the largest city in China. He is the only child of a basketball family, whose parents are both basketball player. At 18 he became a main member of the national basketball team. In2002 he went to America and joined the Houston Rockets in the NBA as a center.
In 2007 Yao married Yeli, a women’s basketball player in China. On May 21, 2010, the couple’s daughter Yao Qinlei (whose English name is Amy) was born in Houston, Texas. Yao retired in 2011because of the stress fractures in his left foot, ending of his career as a NBA basketball player.
Yao Ming is the first Chinese player to have a major impact in the NBA and the first Chinese athlete to become an international superstar. He is a professional player and loves his country very much. As he said “I want people in China to know that part of why I play basketball is simply personal.
In the eyes of Americans, if I fail then I fail. It’s just me. But for the Chinese if I fail then that means that thousands of other people fail along with me.” In the 2008 Olympics, Yao had surgery on the stress fractures in his left foot. For Chinese, the foot injury was seen in the light of how it would affect the national team in the Olympics. Despite this unfortunate situation, he decided to return to China.
At that time he carried the Chinese flag during the opening ceremony of the Olympics, which he said was a “long dream come true, if I cannot play in the Olympics for my country that would be the biggest blow of my career. I don’t want to know how disappointed the people of China would be…I’ll do the best I can come back, get stronger, and stay healthy.” Yao has also joined in many charity events during his career, including the NBA’s Basketball without Borders program.
In the NBA’s off-season in 2003, Yao hosted a telethon, which raised $300,000 U.S. dollars to help stop the spread of SARS. In 2008, a terrible earthquake hit China. Huge buildings collapsed. Thousands of people were killed in the tragedy. Millions were left without a place. After that Yao set up The Yao Ming Foundation.
The Foundation raises money to rebuild schools that were destroyed in the earthquake. Yao and his wife also donated $2 million to help people rebuild their homes. Yao has also showed his concern for the environment. He committed to stop eating shark fin soup in 2006 after learning of the cruel and wasteful practice of “Finning” and the threat of extinction facing many shark populations as a result of demand for their fins.
He has been an Ambassador for Wild Aid’s shark activity ever since. In conclusion, he is always the pride of China. His excellent performances in the match always inspire many Chinese. Despite that Yao’s playing career was over, his influence in the basketball world is still huge; he is still an iconic and beloved figure in Chinese basketball.