Yao Ming on court for university graduation ceremony

Yang Meiping
Chinese basketball legend Yao Ming will be the commencement speaker at Shanghai New York University's 8th undergraduate graduation ceremony on May 19.
Yang Meiping

Chinese basketball legend and philanthropist Yao Ming will be the commencement speaker at Shanghai New York University's 8th undergraduate graduation ceremony on May 19, the university said on Friday.

"I'm honored to attend the commencement of NYU Shanghai," said Yao, who has served as the president of the Chinese Basketball Association since 2017.

"Basketball is a common language that connects the world. NYU Shanghai is a multicultural university. I am very much looking forward to interacting with these young people from different countries and cultural backgrounds."

Yao was a core player on the Chinese men's national basketball team from 1999 to 2008.

During his almost decade-long career with the Houston Rockets, Yao became one of the most celebrated Chinese basketball players in the NBA and in 2016, he became the first Chinese national to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Yao has been acting as the FIBA Asia chairman and EABA president since 2019. He was inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2023.

"For many years Yao Ming has been a role model for young people in many countries, particularly in China and in the US," said NYU Shanghai chancellor Tong Shijun, who will present Yao the Medal of Honor at the commencement ceremony.

"As a person who has won widespread respect for his outstanding achievements in his professional and social roles, he is most suitable for telling our students about the true meaning of 'being successful' or 'being a winner.'"

NYU Shanghai's vice chancellor Jeffrey Lehman said the university is honored to have Yao speak to the graduating class of 2024.

"Over the course of his professional life, he has used his athletic talent, intelligence, sense of humor, and generous spirit to improve every domain where he has worked," he said. "He has been a model of cosmopolitanism, helping people from different cultures appreciate all that they hold in common."

Yao said as a basketball player he looked forward to every opportunity to step on the court to compete.

"As for the graduates, they are about to embark on a broader arena where challenges and opportunities coexist," he said. "I hope that everyone will bravely present themselves on the new stage, seize the day, and live it to the fullest."

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