In the forest of NBA players, Yao Ming is at the very top.
Standing 7-foot-6, the basketball star trails only Gheorghe Muresan and Manute Bol as the tallest player in NBA history. With height that only a few humans can claim, the pool for significant others in the same stratosphere is limited.
Yao didn’t have a problem. His wife, former basketball player Ye Li, is 6-foot-3.
Yao Ming’s Wife Ye Li
Yao met fellow Chinese basketball player Ye Li when he was 17 years old. She wasn’t interested at first, but Yao was persistent.
Yao gave Ye the team pins he collected at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia to show his affection. Nothing like trinkets from a once-in-a-lifetime event to win over the woman of your dreams.
On August 6, 2007, the couple married in a ceremony attended only by close friends and family.
On May 21, 2010, the basketball playing husband and wife welcomed a daughter, Yao Qinlei (whose English name is Amy). The child was born in Houston, Texas.
Yao Ming’s Basketball Career
Yao Ming was born to professional basketball players Yao Zhiyuan and Fang Fengdi on September 12, 1980 in Shanghai, China. He started playing basketball at nine-years-old and attended a junior sports school. At 17, Yao started playing professionally with the Shanghai Sharks.
Yao averaged 23.2 points and 15.6 rebounds in five years with the team. As one of the most highly touted international prospects ever, Yao migrated to the United States where he was the first-overall pick by the Houston Rockets in the 2002 NBA Draft.
He had a great career in the Association:
— 8x NBA All-Star
— 2x All-NBA Second Team
— 3x All-NBA Third Team
— NBA All-Rookie First Team (2003)
— No. 11 Retired by Houston Rockets
For his nine-year NBA career, Yao averaged 19 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.9 blocks. He sat out the 2009-10 season due to a foot injury.
Yao and the Rockets battled the Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks, and Los Angeles Lakers, where he dueled Shaquille O’Neal, throughout his career. The farthest Houston advanced in the playoffs was the 2009 Western Conference semifinals against the Lakers, where the Rockets fell to the eventual champion in seven games.
The superstar center announced his retirement from the league at a press conference in Shanghai on July 20, 2011.
The five-time All-NBA player was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016 alongside Shaq and Allen Iverson.
Yao is currently the president of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA).
His family will always be priority No. 1.