Yao Ming Retires With Promise of Continuing Charity Work
“I am ending my athletic career and am retiring from basketball,” Yao said through an interpreter at a plush Pudong hotel on Wednesday. “Basketball has given me so much. It has led me to a bigger and brighter stage to showcase my abilities…with a well-functioned Yao Foundation, I’ll try to promote charity work not only in my circle of friends but also for the whole society, to help more people. I’m very thankful for what life has taught me…To live a better life is the best way to say thanks, I think.”
On August 2, 2008, I wrote about an interview ESPN did with Yao and Dikembe, in part I quoted Yao about his inspiration:
“ What inspires me are the stories that have come out. There is a picture on a website of a teacher who, when the earthquake was happening, put four kids under a table and put his body on top of the table. When the school wall came down, the teacher died but the kids were saved. You can’t stay away when you hear stories like that. When my foundation raises the money to rebuild those schools, we’re going to name the schools after those teachers.”
Here’s another favorite about how the NBA cut Yao’s Foundation out of the charity loop in 2009, with Yao’s response being: “I know, it’s all about 2010, they (NBA) have rules. All we want to do is help people who were hurt by the earthquake in the Sichuan Province.”
No doubt, Yao Ming will have plenty of time to use ‘the bigger stage’ to continue his humanitarian work. Unencumbered by the long-arm of the NBA law, Yao can only flourish in his efforts. There will never be another player who so effectively bridged the hoops gap between China and the US. Even his fans have started a ‘movement’ to convince the Huston Rockets to build a bronze statute of Yao.
Inspired by monument of retired NBA star Hakeem Olajuwon in front of the main entrance to the Toyota Center, home arena of the Rockets, Yao’s fans have suggested the Rockets give the same treatment to the Chinese player. “We will collect signatures among Chinese fans and write a petition letter to the Rockets,” Huang said. “Probably we will do fundraising events for a Yao statue.”’(China Daily)
And of course, the best part of Yao’s retirement is his promise to continue his charity work:
“I will keep devoting myself to social charity work…the Yao Foundation, launched three years ago, is a project named after me. I promise here that it will keep going on,” said Yao. The Yao Foundation has built 16 basketball courts and has donated millions of dollars to build schools around China. “With a well-functioned Yao Foundation, I’ll try to promote charity work not only in my circle of friends but also for the whole society, to help more people. I’m very thankful for what life has taught me…To live a better life is the best way to say thanks, I think.”
Yao has donated earthquake victims…is a Goodwill Ambassador of the international wildlife conservation organization “WildAid”…represents China’s AIDS Prevention Campaign and the NBA’s “Basketball Without Borders” and “Read to Achieve” programs and promotes bone marrow donation. (Yao Ming Foundation)
I really don’t know what to say aside from thank you Yao Ming….thank you for being an exceptional role model, a wicked baller when you played, and a cultural icon whose legacy will inspire for generations.
As always, thanks for reading~