What Happened to Former NBA Star Yao Ming?

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Yao Ming during CBA media day

Former Houston Rockets big man Yao Ming was a franchise-changing talent throughout his entire NBA career, which was cut disappointingly short due to injury. He was the biggest talent to join the league from China, which helped him garner international recognition.

Since his retirement after the 2010-11 season, he has managed to stay around the game that helped him become a global sports icon.

Yao Ming’s NBA career

Although he spent just nine seasons in the NBA after the Houston Rockets selected him with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2002 NBA Draft, Yao Ming’s impact was undeniable.

A polished offensive talent and a legitimate rim protector, the 7-foot-6 standout arrived in Houston fresh off dominance with the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association. He was already the complete package with effective moves in the low post and a reliable mid-range jumper.

During his NBA career, he piled up eight All-Star selections and five All-NBA appearances while averaging 19.0 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks. He reached the playoffs five times and helped the Rockets crack the 50-win barrier in four separate campaigns.

Though his career was cut short by nagging foot and ankle injuries — a third fracture of his left foot was the final blow — he earned Hall of Fame induction as part of the 2016 class and had his No. 11 jersey retired by the Rockets.

Yao Ming’s life after NBA

Since stepping away from the NBA, Yao Ming hasn’t removed himself from the game of basketball.

He has been involved in several financial ventures over the years, including a restaurant in Houston named YAO Restaurant & Bar, another dining establishment in Shanghai, and a winery in California. The 43-year-old also helped launch the NBA Yao Basketball Club in 2014, which works with the NBA to provide after-school, weekend, and holiday basketball training and competitions.

The Chinese star bought the Shanghai Sharks, who were struggling financially at the time, in 2009 and retained ownership until the 2017-18 season. In February 2017, he was unanimously appointed as the chairman of the Chinese Basketball Association. He continues to hold that position and has helped expand the reach of the CBA, at least partially by increasing the number of regular-season games from 36 to 46.

Yao Ming during CBA media day
Chairman of the Chinese Basketball Association Yao Ming looks on during the China Basketball Association Media Day on April 7, 2023 in Beijing, China | Fred Lee/Getty Images

Aside from his basketball interests, he also graduated in 2018 from a tailored degree program at the Antai College of Economics & Management of Shanghai Jiao Tong University with a bachelor’s degree in economics after seven years of study.

Yao, due to his various endorsement deals, his earnings during his playing career, and his international celebrity, has a reported net worth of $160 million, per