fter seven years of university, Yao Ming can finally call himself a college graduate, receiving his bachelor’s degree along with his peers during a graduation ceremony at Shanghai Jiaotong University on Sunday.
Being an exceptionally tall teenager, Yao had forgone his education in favor of a career as a professional basketball player, joining the Shanghai Sharks as a 17-year-old before moving on to the NBA at the age of 21, becoming one of the defining stars of his era until injuries cut short his career.
Speaking at the ceremony on Sunday, the 38-year-old graduate recalled his battles, not on the hardwood, but in the classroom:
“I had promised to my parents when I entered the CBA (Chinese Basketball Association) at the age of 17 that I would come back to finish college after I was done with my sportsman’s life,” he was quoted by China Daily as saying. “If not for that promise, I might have quit several times, especially when I studied the course of advanced mathematics.
“But over time, I came to believe the process of learning is more important than the result,” Yao continued. “Try to combine your own future plans with society’s development, because only by doing so will you give yourselves more room to explore.”
Yao graduates with a degree in economics from the university’s Antai College of Economics and Management. Quite the accomplishment for someone who admitted to being “totally lost” after his first math class.
Though it’s not clear if his heart was ever truly in the subject. During a talk show appearance in 2016, Yao revealed that he was pushed into basketball by his parents and if not for that he would have liked to have become an archeologist.
But, in the end, things seemed to have worked out pretty well for Yao. After playing in the NBA and becoming a global icon, he used this fame and fortune to become the owner of his hometown basketball team and call for the conservation of animals like elephants, rhinos, and sharks, while also becoming China’s tallest CPPCC delegate.
[Images via ChinaNews]