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Yao Ming

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Dozens of articles have been written about him, people crowd the lines to get tickets to his games, his name and picture are strewn all over the news. Although he's only a rookie, he has become a household name. But this year's NBA number one draft pick, soft-spoken, humorous Yao Ming is much more than a magnificent basketball player. He is an explorer and a pioneer. Reminiscing about his childhood dream, he says "I wanted to be adventurer and explore the world." He reveled in geography and history. His stellar basketball moves have allowed him to begin accomplishing his childhood dreams.

Yao loved basketball as soon as his hand first touched the grainy leather ball. The star basketball player was probably born with basketball in his genes, seeing as how both his parents were Chinese national team players and stand above six feet tall. When he turned nine, Yao was enrolled into the Youth Sports School in Shanghai. His coaches took notice of his charisma on the courts; he stood out in skill and in form. He always seemed to tower above the rest of his classmates. When he turned 14, he began professionally training with the Shanghai Youth Team.

Yao continued to grow to an amazing 7 foot-5, donning titles such as Little Giant by basketball fans all over China. But his adventure was only beginning.

When he was 19, he began playing on the Chinese National Team, participating in international games, such as the Olympics. Yao started his professional career on the Shanghai Sharks for the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), averaging a career high of 32.4 points with 19.0 rebounds and 4.8 blocked shots in 34 regular season games. He's been laden with many honors, including MVP for the 2001 Asian Basketball Championship for Men and the CBA Sportsmanship Award.

Yao Ming soon had fans in China and overseas. Throughout all his playing, Yao never forgot his dreams of being an explorer and an adventurer. He suddenly had the opportunity to be drafted overseas to play in the NBA and became the first foreign player to ever be the number one draft pick. The Houston Rockets were quick to pick him up, and he was off to the Lone Star state to begin training with his new teammates.

Being dubbed as the "biggest story going in the draft," by C.M. Newton of the World Basketball Championships, you would never know by talking to him. With a warm smile, Yao loves to come home from a long day's work to his mom's hearty Chinese meals in their Houston home. He reminisces about hanging out with his friends and going to Internet Cafes to play video games, but Houston is quickly becoming his second home. Everyday, he reads American papers, such as USA Today, and watches some T.V., to continue to master his English. He can't wait to hop on a bike and ride all over Houston, just like he used to in China.

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