Yao Ming is one of the most notable players in NBA history. He wasn’t just skilled and the face of a franchise, he was larger than life. He’s one of the tallest players of all time, and left his mark on the league. Despite that, he’s not someone who stayed in the media.
To give more insight into what the foreign-born big man did after retiring from the NBA, this guide looks at his different endeavors since leaving the league. He’s been up to quite a few things, they just haven’t been in the public spotlight.
Quick, but Impactful
As great as Yao was, he did not have the longest career. In fact, relative to most other big name players, his time in the NBA was quite short. Where many all stars stick around for a decade or more, Yao only played in the professional league for eight seasons.
That was mainly due to the fact that he succumbed to injuries going into the second half of his career. His large frame, while extremely useful in the NBA, couldn’t handle the constant impacts and running that comes with playing basketball.
After a series of lower body injuries, mainly to his knees, feet, and ankles, Yao decided to hang it up. He had a great run and put up strong stats while in the league, but he just couldn’t take it anymore. However, that was far from the last thing he did.
A Quiet Retirement
After leaving the NBA, Yao shrunk back from the public eye. While he undoubtedly could have stayed around and increased his fame, the quiet player decided to keep to himself. That didn’t mean he was done living, it just meant he shifted his focus.
Two years after retiring, he enrolled in Antai College of Economics & Management of Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 2011. He took a special program that featured one-on-one lectures so he wouldn’t distract other students, and he finished his degree in 2018 after seven years.
During his time completing his higher education, Yao also decided to get into some other endeavors. That included opening a winery known as Yao Family Wines in Napa, California.
The establishment serves Cabernet Sauvignon blends and is well respected. He then followed it up by opening up two restaurants (both named YAO Restaurant and Bar) in Houston and his hometown of Shanghai.
Another important achievement for Yao was being inducted into the hall of fame. The giant may not have had the longevity of other legends, but he earned the NBA’s highest honors for being an ambassador to another country and acting as a cultural hero.
He’s not the first such player to be in the hall for his social achievements, and he certainly won’t be the last. Even so, he created a direct line to Asia and paved the way for many other Chinese players to enter the league. That was more than enough to get a jacket.
That wasn’t his only basketball venture either. He also was named the chairman of the Chinese Basketball Association and helped launch the NBA YAO Basketball Club back in 2014. He owned a team within the CBA as well, and only gave up his position when becoming chair.
He also continues to play basketball in a casual context. He may not be someone who ever wanted to get back onto a professional court, but the game is a huge part of his life and continues to be something he engages in when he gets the chance.
Beyond all of his above achievements, Yao has also been involved with various investments and public campaigns. He created an athletic marketing agency, and coordinated a series of campaigns to get commercial elephant ivory banned in China.
Such moves show that he has a lot of irons in a lot of fires, and is constantly looking for things to do. While it’s hard to know exactly where his life will take him next, his history shows that he’s going to enter into a new endeavor or start a new business.
It’s unlikely he’ll do something to get back on the court but, as shown by his brief stint on Man vs. Wild, he’s up for just about anything else.
Yao Ming is not someone who had an extremely long NBA career. He got in, made a big impact, and then left. Even so, his time post basketball has been quite impressive too. He may not have stayed in the public spotlight, but he’s certainly been busy.
The 7’6 center took over numerous endeavors, continued to work with professional basketball, and has greatly enjoyed his life. For someone with so much stature, it’s hard to ask for much more than that.