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Unusual height once root of Yao's inferiority

Updated: 2012-09-14 17:49
By Yan Weijue (

One of the standard lines for China's basketball great Yao Ming is that he is an open-minded hunk with a sense of humor, but he admits to once being an introverted kid and it was what made him different from his peers that troubled him – his height.

"I still remember the most my teachers wrote about me in the year book was that I was an obedient student who needed to be more out-spoken and active," he said during a TV talk show aired on Wednesday.

Unusual height once root of Yao's inferiority

Yao Ming attend "Li Jing Show", a Chinese talk show recently.

"I realized I was taller than all the others. And I didn't want to be in the spotlight. So I did everything cautiously, keeping a low-profile and trying to behave like they do."

The decisive time for Yao's determination to play basketball came at a sports meeting in primary school, when the then basketball greenhorn who had grew to the height of 1.7 meters air balled a slew of shots at an event

"My classmates all took it for granted that I was born to play the game well. And I failed them," he reminisced with a smile.

He was later taken by a coach to pick up the ball seriously. Due to his unusual height, he always played against those who were two or three year older.

That experience helped Yao improve his game, and his confidence became even bigger when he defeated Tyson Chandler, starting center for US at London Olympics, one-on-one at a training camp in US in 1998.

"I was 18 and he was 16. My coach reminded me to make earnest preparations before the game. He said Chandler definitely would play in the NBA in future. But it turned out I was over prepared as I embarrassed him on the court," he said.

"And that was the first time that I knew I could play in the NBA one day."

Chandler plays for the New York Knicks now and was voted Defensive Play of the Year last season. On the other hand, Yao played only 9 seasons in the league and retired from the game 14 months ago due to repeated foot injuries.

His appearances are now for charity events and philanthropy. He launched the Yao Foundation in 2008 after the Wenchuan quake in Southwest China's Sichuan province on May 12 that year. In the past four years it has donated buildings for 14 project primary schools and basketball courts in numerous schools.

But Yao said human touch is more important than supplying equipment.

"For me, the concept of a school is far more than a house, textbook and desks. It is the ties with others and all of the fun memories that constitute the concept."

Unusual height once root of Yao's inferiority

Yao Ming give a high-five to a pupil in a basketball exhibition game at a Hope Primary School funded by Yao Foundation in Leshan city, Southwest China's Sichuan province, Aug 25, 2012. [Photo/Xinhua]


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