Yao Ming, China’s basketball superstar

The embedded ten-minute video of the China Daily interview with Yao Ming is in Mandarin with English subtitles.

For those who don’t know who Yao Ming is, he was born in Shanghai, China in 1980.  When he was twenty-two, Yao Ming came to the US. where he played for the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association and, at the time, was the tallest player in the NBA at 2.29 meters or 7 feet 6 inches.

Before Yao Ming came to the US, he played for the Shanghai Sharks as a teen then played on their senior team for five years in the Chinese Basketball Association.

Watching the China Daily interview revealed another side to this gentle giant. A brief abridged transcript of the interview is provided.

The People Daily interview took place in July 2010 shortly before a charity game held in Beijing. The reporter conducting the interview is Yu Yilei

Yu Yilei – Your charity game will be held in Beijing. What idea do you want to convey through it?

Yao Ming – The main purpose of the game is to help kids in Sichuan and other remote areas to rebuild their schools. In addition, we want to tell the public that people like us, who live in big cities, have the responsibility and obligation to help others.

It (the charity) was actually Steve Nash’s idea. Nash had a friend who was an entrepreneur in China, and he’d been concerned about China’s education in its remote areas.  It was an early time, the beginning of 2007.

I said I needed to think it over, because I didn’t have any experience in terms of charity (In fact, Charity as we know it in America and/or the West was new to the Chinese).

The man who provided the information about education in remote areas of China shocked “us” deeply.

A foreigner knew more about China than I did.  It feels… It makes me blush. (He then mentions that charity is just getting started in China and there hasn’t yet been time to develop regulations to supervise and protect it.)

Yu Yilei – How to you insure the regulation of the Yao Foundation?

Yao Ming – I think information transparency is most important. There is a professional management team and accountants. You can also find out very clearly on our website what each donation has been used for.

Yao Ming goes on to talk about his son and how China and America have influenced him.

Notes: In 2004, Business Week reported that Yao’s four-year contract with the Rockets was worth $18 million, and he earned an estimated $15 million a year in longer-term deals with top-tier brands Pepsi, Reebok, Gatorade, and McDonalds.…Some executives believe Yao has the potential to gross $300 million in his first 10 years in the league. Yao Ming earned 51 million U.S. Dollars (357 million yuan) in 2008 alone.

In July 2011, Yao announced his retirement from professional basketball due to a series of foot and ankle injuries that forced him to miss 250 games in his last six seasons. In eight seasons with the Rockets, Yao ranks sixth among franchise leaders in total points and total rebounds, and second in total blocks.

Yao is married to Ye Li, a women’s basketball player for China. He met her when he was 17 years old. Ye was not fond of Yao at first, but finally accepted him after he gave her the team pins he had collected during the 2000 Summer Olympics. She’s the only woman he has ever dated. Their relationship became public when they appeared together during the 2004 Olympics closing ceremony. On August 6, 2007, Yao married Ye in a ceremony attended by close friends and family and closed to the media.

In August 2012, Yao started filming a documentary about the northern white rhinoceros. He is also an ambassador for elephant conservation. Yao has filmed a number of public service announcements for elephant and rhino conservation for the “Say No” Campaign with partners African Wildlife Foundation and WildAid.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

2015 Promotion Image for My Splendid Concubine

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