Yao Ming Biography – Early Life, Career, Facts & Honors

One of the strong connections between China and America is Yao Ming. He is also known as the Ming Dynasty due to his unbelievable basketball career. Hence, stick here to get all the knowledge about him from his early life to his retirement and other remarkable work.

Ming is a retired Chinese basketball player who became an international star after playing in The Chinese Basketball Association (C.B.A.) and played as a center for the Houston Rockets of the N.B.A. The 7 ft and 6 inches taller player is the only non-US player to lead N.B.A. in the All-Star voting. He played for China in the 2000 Summer Olympics. For six following years, he was on the top of Forbes’s Chinese celebrities list based on income and popularity.  He also led his country’s national team to three consecutive FIBA Asian Championship gold medals.

Ming the Merciless was voted to start for the Western Conference in the NBA. Yao Ming was named to the All-NBA Team All-Star Game on at least eight occasions, and on five occasions. During his N.B.A. career, Yao was an eight-time All-Star. He scored 9,247 points and had 4,494 rebounds and 920 blocks. In 2011; he retired from professional basketball due to a series of injuries.

“Fortune cookies are a good idea. If the message is positive, it can make your day a little better.”


Nick NamesMing the Merciless, The Dynasty, Yao and 100
D.O.BSeptember 12, 1980 
Place of birthShanghai, China
Zodiac signVirgo
Height2.29 m (7 ft 6 in)
Weight310 lb (141 kg)
ProfessionRetired Basketball player, Athlete
Marital statusMarried-Ye Li
ChildrenYao Qinlei

Childhood and Early Career

Yao is the only child of 6-foot-7-inch (2.01 m) Yao Zhiyuan and 6-foot-3-inch (1.91 m) Fang Fengdi, both former professional basketball players. Yao with a weight of 11 pounds, more than double as much as the average Chinese newborn. Initially, he was not enthusiastic about basketball or any other game. He was passionate about reading about military history. He has all the information about the ancient battles of China.

At nine, he started playing basketball and got the attention of the local sports officials, who motivated him to participate in a junior sports school in Shanghai. Yao Ming played for the junior team for four years continuously. He tried out for the Shanghai Sharks junior team of the Chinese Basketball Association (C.B.A.) at just 13 years old.

He joined the senior team and averaged 10 points and 8 rebounds per game in his first season. His jumping ability reduced from 15 cm to 10 when he broke his foot in his second season.  The same year, Yao measured 5 feet 5 inches (1.65 m) and was examined by sports doctors, who predicted he would grow to 7 feet 3 inches (2.21 m).

He was already more than 6 feet tall in the class of nine. The following year, he signed a contract with the Shanghai youth team. When he was 17, he joined the senior team of Shanghai Shark’s star player.

The Sharks won their only title in the lead of Yao in the third appearance while losing their first two Finals appearances. In that game, Yao Ming averaged 38.9 points and 20.2 rebounds per game in the playoffs, and he had an incredible 21-21 shooting game in the Finals.

In 2018 Yao received a degree from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in Economics after seven years of study due to an adapted degree program.

National Team Career

yao national team
yao national team

In the 2000 Summer Olympics, Yao appeared for China, scoring 39 points as a winner against New Zealand. Then, China lost against Spain, Argentina, and Italy, respectively. However, in the final group game, 67–66 wins over the 2002 FIBA World Champions Serbia and Montenegro transferred them into the quarterfinals. Yao scored 27 points, had 13 rebounds, and hit two free throws with 28 seconds left, which proved to be the winning margin. He averaged 20.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game while shooting 55.9% from the field.

Yao Ming led the Chinese national team to three following FIBA Asia Cup gold medals, winning in 2001 2003, and 2005. He was also named the M.V.P. of all three tournaments. Yao’s injury in the last part of the 2005–06 NBA season necessary a full six months of rest, threatening his participation in the 2006 FIBA World Championship. 

However, he recovered before the start of the game, with 36 points and 10 rebounds in a win against Slovenia to lead China into the Round of 16. In the first knockout round, though, China was defeated by eventual finalist Greece. Yao’s final averages were 25.3 points, and 9.0 rebounds a game, which was fourth on the whole.

Yao Ming NBA Career

yao nba career
yao nba career

Ming officially became a basketball champion of the game. After several years of the insistence of general manager Li Yaomin of the Sharks to join the N.B.A., Yao finally decided to rise in 2002.

In the 2002 N.B.A. draft, Yao was picked by the Houston Rockets in the first round by his team. A group of advisers was formed that came to be known as “Team Yao.” They prudently used their pick to select the 7’6″ prospect from China, Yao Ming.

Yao’s entry into the NBA unlocked a new door for the NBA. in the global popularity department. When he was selected, he became the first international player ever to be selected first overall without having previously played U.S. college basketball.

Regardless of this standing, Yao strived to become accustomed to the N.B.A.’s rate and temperament. His first N.B.A. was against Indiana Pacers, and he didn’t score a point however scored his first N.B.A basket in a game against the Denver Nuggets.

Yao Ming averaged only 14 minutes and 4 points in his first seven games. After that, he broke the fall rate while playing against the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, scoring 20 points on a perfect 9-of-9 from the field on November 17, 2002.

According to many Analysts, Ming’s career would not have been that much better. Moreover, Yao retired from the N.B.A. in 2011 after eight full seasons due to constant injuries. So he became paler and decided to go back to C.B.A.

Fans seemed excited around China when the fans voted for the 2002-03 N.B.A. All-Star Game starters. As a rookie, Yao led all centers in votes and beat out Shaquille O’Neal for the starting position. His entire N.B.A. career in Houston consists from 2002 – 2011.

Regular Seasons and Playoffs

In January 2003, Yao scored the Rockets’ first six points of the game, and in Yao’s first game against Shaquille O’Neal and blocked O’Neal twice in the opening minutes.

Yao Ming ended his Rookie season with averages of 13.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game. He was ranked second in the N.B.A. Rookie of the Year Award and agreed to select for the All-Rookie First Team selection. He had also received the Newcomer of the Year award.

Before starting a fresh season of Yao, when Rocket’s head coach Rudy Tomjanovich resigned due to health issues, the idea of long-time New York kicks Jeff Van Gundy as a head coach was brought in.

However, Jeff started focusing the offense on Yao; Ming averaged high career points and rebounds for the season. In February 2004, he scored 41 points and 7 assists in triple overtime opposite Atlanta Hawks. Yao completed the season averaging 17.5 points and 9.0 rebounds a game. Yao was elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame, with Shaquille O’Neal and Allen Iverson in April 2016.  He was elected chairman of the Chinese Basketball Association in 2017.

Yao Ming Made an announcement of Retirement

On July 20, 2011, Yao announced his retirement from basketball while attending a press conference in Shanghai. He refers to his foot and ankle injuries, including the third fracture to his left foot sustained near the end of 2010. 

Reacting to Yao’s retirement, according to NBA commissioner David Stern  Yao was a bridge between Chinese and American fans and that he had a magnificent combination of talent, dedication, civilized aspirations, and a sense of humor. Additionally, Shaquille O’Neal said Yao was very supple. He could play inside and outside, and if he didn’t have those injuries, he could’ve been up in the top five centers to play the game.

On September 9, 2016, Yao was inducted into the Hall of Fame along with 4-time N.B.A. champion Shaquille O’Neal and Allen Iverson. On February 3, 2017ongoing with the honors, the Houston Rockets retired Yao’s Number 11 jersey.

Other Businesses

Yao Ming is the most popular Athlete like Liu Xiang. Since 2009, he has led the Forbes Chinese Celebrities list with income and popularity for 6 six years by earning U.S. $51 million (CN¥357 million) in 2008.  However, a major part of his fortune is based on his sponsorship deals which he signed with many major companies such as Nike, Reebok, Pepsi, Visa, Apple, Garmin, and McDonald’s to endorse their products.  

In 2003, he sued Coca-Cola for using his picture for their bottles but eventually signed with Coca-Cola for the 2008 Olympics.

Moreover, he also bought his former club team, the Shanghai Sharks, on July 16, 2009. The reason for buying was the threshold of not being able o play the next season of the Chinese Basketball Association because of financial troubles.


Yao Honors
Yao Honors
  1. 2× C.B.A. Slam Dunk leader (2000, 2001)
  2. CBA MVP (2001)
  3. C.B.A. Finals M.V.P. (2001)
  4. 2× C.B.A. Slam Dunk leader (2000, 2001)
  5. 3× C.B.A. rebounding leader (2000, 2001, 2002)
  6. C.B.A. champion (2002)
  7. FIBA World Championship (2002)
  8. 3× C.B.A. blocks leader (2000, 2001, 2002)
  9. 3× FIBA Asia Cup MVP (2001, 2003, 2005)
  10. N.B.A. All-Rookie First Team (2003)
  11. 8× NBA All-Star (2003–2009, 2011)
  12. 3× All-NBA Third Team (2004, 2006, 2008)
  13. 3× FIBA Asia Cup MVP (2001, 2003, 2005)
  14. FIBA World Cup Top Scorer (2006)
  15. Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (2016)

Yao Ming Net Worth

Yao Ming is a popular Chinese retired professional basketball player with a Net worth of $160 million. His highest career salary is based on his final season when the Houston Rockets paid Yao $17.6 million. Overall he earned around $93 million in N.B.A. salary. Moreover, he earned and continues to gross appreciably more money from brand endorsements and investments.


Yao participated in many aid organization events during his career, including the N.B.A.’s Basketball. Additionally, Yao hosted a telethon in the N.B.A.’s offseason in 2003, which raised U.S. $300,000 to assist stop the spread of SARS.

 In September 2007, he held an auction that raised US$965,000 (CN¥6.75 million) and competed in a charity basketball match to raise money for underprivileged children in China. His fellow N.B.A. stars also joined Steve Nash, Carmelo Anthony, Baron Avis, and Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan. After the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, Yao donated $2 million to aid work and created the Yao Ming Foundation to help rebuild schools destroyed.

Yao has also been a dedicated supporter of the Special Olympics. He serves as a Global Ambassador and International Board of Directors member.

Personal Life

Ming started dating Chinese female basketball player Ye Li when they were adolescents. But they got married in August 2007, and in May 2010, attended by close friends and family and closed to the media, they welcomed their daughter Yao Qinlei in Houston, Texas.

Yao Ming-Films & Documentaries

Ming documentaries
Ming documentaries

In 2004, he co-wrote his autobiography Yao: A Life in Two Worlds. The same year, a documentary film titled ‘The Year of the Yao’ was made. The film focuses on his N.B.A. rookie year.

 In 2005, former ‘Newsweek’ writer Brook Larmer published a book titled Operation Yao Ming. He also appeared in Yao Ming and Children Affected b HIV/AIDS (2005), The Magic Aster (2009), and Amazing (2013).

In August 2012, Yao started filming a documentary about the northern white rhinoceros. He is also a representative for elephant conservation. Furthermore, in 2014, he was also part of the documentary The End of the Wild about elephant conservation.

Yao has filmed many public service announcements for elephant and rhino conservation for the Say No campaign with partners African Wildlife Foundation and Wild Aid.

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