THE CITY OF HOUSTON CELEBRATES
BASKETBALL LEGEND YAO MING
By: Kimberly Chuck
Photography: Quy Tran
Retired basketball player, Yao Ming, formerly of the Houston Rockets, was honored in a private celebration hosted by Mayor Sylvester Turner at City Hall’s Legacy room on Thursday, February 02, 2017. Among the attendees at the noteworthy celebration were Houston City Council members; Ashley Turner, first daughter of the City of Houston; Leslie Alexander, owner of the Houston Rockets; and honorary consul generals from China, Argentina, the Netherlands, and the Ivory Coast.
Ming’s numerous accomplishments are not limited to sports. Many of the superstar’s most impressive achievements have taken place off the basketball court. For a number of years, The Yao Ming Foundation has advanced education on a global scale, and Ming’s information campaigns in China have educated many in the need for language training and communication. Working with Basketball Without Borders, Ming has also helped create improved basketball infrastructure for youth in over twenty countries worldwide.
Because of his tireless work promoting Houston abroad, Ming was officially named Houston Goodwill Ambassador in 2013. The city continues to work with the larger-than-life basketball legend to this day. Houston is proud to have Ming’s representation across the globe strengthening American and Chinese relations, while building a lasting friendship that will transcend lifetimes.
Mayor Turner named February 02 Yao Ming Day and presented the basketball hero with a sterling silver plaque from the City of Houston engraved with a railroad symbolizing constant growth and future expansion. Mayor Turner emphasized that the plaque also represents the work Ming has done, and will continue to do, as he connects Houston to different cities and countries around the globe.
Following Mayor Turner’s presentation, a congressional proclamation and certificate of recognition from the 18th Congressional District of Texas was also presented to Ming. The dedication praised his gracious presence at the event, his impressive legacy, and the esteemed retirement of his jersey. Houston Rockets’ owner, Leslie Alexander, added a few words of thanks and stated, “Yao is a great person and player. He changed basketball and the world when he came to Houston as our first pick in the 2002 NBA draft. He is a great representative for us and we all love him.”
In closing, Ming expressed his thankfulness for the significant event in his honor and said that when he arrived in Houston fifteen years ago, he never imagined he would be where he is today. The opportunity to be a role model and an icon for so many around the world was an unconscious accomplishment. His words of inspiration to others were, “Houston is a place to dream . . . so dream big. The dream can come true.”
Ming’s famous number 11 basketball jersey was officially retired with a special halftime ceremony at the Houston Rockets game on Friday, February 03, 2017. This gesture celebrated an amazing athletic career that will forever be remembered by all, especially Houstonians.
About the Yao Ming Foundation
The Yao Ming Foundation was established in June of 2008 by international NBA star Yao Ming in response to the devastating 8.0 earthquake in Sichuan Province, China, on May 12, 2008. An 8.0 earthquake is the equivalent to energy released from 790 nuclear bombs. More than 8,000 schoolrooms and 185 schools were destroyed during the earthquake. The Yao Ming Foundation was formed with the mission to rebuild schools in the earthquake region.