40 Elites in 40 Years: Yao Ming: Greatness Continues
Updated 16:33, 21-Jan-2019
CGTN
02:59

Yao Ming is probably the most frequently mentioned name when talking about Chinese basketball. From being "The Little Giant" to "The Big Boss," Yao's love for basketball has remained unchanged since day one.

Yao Ming #11 of the Houston Rockets poses for a headshot during Rockets media day at Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, October 3, 2005. /VCG Photo

Yao Ming #11 of the Houston Rockets poses for a headshot during Rockets media day at Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, October 3, 2005. /VCG Photo

Born to a basketball family in Shanghai in 1980, Yao started his career at the age of 18 when he was selected for to the men's national basketball team. He was the first overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft by the Houston Rockets. In 2009, Yao bought the Shanghai Sharks, the CBA club. Yao has achieved great success both as a sportsman and as an entrepreneur.  

On July 20, 2011, Yao announced his retirement in his hometown Shanghai. In 2016, he was selected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, alongside other NBA All-Stars Shaquille O'Neal and Allen Iverson. A year later, Yao was unanimously elected as the president of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) at the age of 37. He became the first-ever non-governmental person to take the position at the ninth national congress of the association, which was founded in 1956.

Yao Ming delivers a speech during his jersey retirement ceremony during halftime of the game between the Houston Rockets and the Chicago Bulls at Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, February 3, 2017. /VCG Photo

Yao Ming delivers a speech during his jersey retirement ceremony during halftime of the game between the Houston Rockets and the Chicago Bulls at Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, February 3, 2017. /VCG Photo

"Many things take a long time or even a lifetime to accomplish," Yao said about public service activities. The Yao Ming Foundation, launched after the Wenchuan earthquake, turned ten in 2018. At first, the Yao Ming Foundation helped with the reconstruction of schools in the disaster-hit area. Later on, it rolled out the “Yao Ming Foundation Hope Primary School Basketball Season,” enrolling more than 920,000 Chinese students in underdeveloped areas.

Yao Ming spoke at the inauguration ceremony of the Jiuquan Nash – Yao Foundation Special Education School in Jiuquan, northwest China's Gansu province, June 10, 2011.  /VCG Photo

Yao Ming spoke at the inauguration ceremony of the Jiuquan Nash – Yao Foundation Special Education School in Jiuquan, northwest China's Gansu province, June 10, 2011.  /VCG Photo

"Basketball can play an important role in the growth of children. Unlike the traditional thought of simply recruiting talented players," Yao noted, adding that "We believe in sports and take basketball as an ideal way to promote people's development, such as the development of a strong will when facing obstacles, teamwork, and leadership."

"Basketball was invented in the academy, which was originally focused on educating people. Interest is the key," he added.