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Yao Ming (born September 12, 1980, in Shanghai, China) was a Chinese professional basketball player. He was the tallest player in the NBA during his tenure standing at a height of 7'6" (2.29 m). He played for the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) for five years, and later played center for the Houston Rockets in the NBA. He was selected by Houston as the 1st overall pick of the 2002 NBA Draft and signed with them on October 21, 2002. A broken foot sustained during the 2008-2009 season threatened to end his career. Though The Rockets were hopeful that two off-season foot surgeries would enable him to play again, his abbreviated comeback was hampered by continued difficulties. In July of 2011, it was announced that Yao Ming had decided to retire after nine NBA seasons. He will be sorely missed.
Yao is one of China's best-known athletes, with sponsorships with several major companies. His rookie year in the NBA was the subject of a documentary film, The Year of the Yao, and he co-wrote, along with NBA analyst Ric Bucher, an autobiography titled Yao: A Life in Two Worlds.
In April 2016, Yao was elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, alongside Shaquille O'Neal and Allen Iverson.
In February 2017, Yao was unanimously elected as chairman of Chinese Basketball Association.
Yao was born to his 6’10” (2.08 meter) tall father Yao Zhiyuan, and his 6'2" (1.88 m) mother Fang Fengdi, who was the captain of the women’s national team that won the first Asian Championship in 1976. He was born with the weight of 11 pounds, twice the average size in China, and was 5’5” by age ten, and 6’6” (2 meters) by the time he was thirteen. He developed a sickness at age seven that resulted in his losing his hearing in his left ear.
He first started playing basketball at age nine, and he went to the junior sports school at the same age. When he was examined at age ten he was predicted to grow to the height of 7’3”. The Sharks invited him to try out for their junior team when he was thirteen, where he had to practice for 10 hours a day to make the team. He first dunked at age fifteen, and he made the senior team of the Sharks when he was seventeen.¹
Yao made the All-Rookie Team for the 2002-2003 season as a 22-year-old. Here are his rookie stats.
Yao Ming's NBA Rookie Season Stats Avg G MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG 02-03 82 29.0 49.8 0.0 81.1 2.4 5.8 8.2 1.7 0.4 1.8 2.1 2.8 13.5
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