NEWS Yao Ming receives key to city

Mayor Annise Parker today proclaimed former Rockets player Yao Ming as Honorary Goodwill Ambassador for the City of Houston, formally appointing him as an honorary representative to promote the city internationally. Mayor Parker and guests also celebrated his many athletic and charitable achievements in Houston and China with the mayor presenting Yao a key to the city.

“Yao Ming has been a role model for many Houstonians as a professional NBA player, but also as a benevolent resident who cares about our city and children everywhere, especially when disaster strikes,” said Mayor Parker. “With his resounding international fame, Yao Ming will be the perfect goodwill ambassador for our city.”

Yao, born in Shanghai, China, began his NBA career with the Houston Rockets as the first pick in the 2002 NBA Draft. He was then unanimously picked for the NBA All-Rookie First Team and was the first rookie to start in an NBA All-Star Game since 1995. He started as an All-Star in 2004, 2005 and 2006. In addition, he represented China at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and finally retired from professional basketball in 2011 due to injury.

Yao and his wife established the Yao Ming Foundation in 2008 in response to the Sichuan earthquake, committing to rebuild five schools, teach and provide boarding for more than 1000 students. In Houston, the Yao Ming Foundation provided a $100,000 grant to Houston-based Collaborative for Children to rebuild four playgrounds destroyed by Hurricane Ike. The first playground was completed on June 5, 2010, at the Houston Chinese Community Center.

"For over a decade now, Houston has been my second home outside of China,” said Yao. “On or off the court, this city opened its arms to me and my family, just has it has for countless other individuals from around the world. While I continue to work hard to represent my country, I carry with me a piece of Houston everywhere I go, and am honored to be called Goodwill Ambassador of Houston.  I look forward to working with Mayor Parker and the City of Houston to promote Houston around the world, and especially in China, where ties with Houston run deep and are expanding every day."

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