After seven years in the books, Yao Ming has finally graduated with an economics degree from the Chinese C9 League (Ivy League) Shanghai Jiao Tong University on Sunday (July 8), TMZ reports. The former Houston Rockets player is officially a college graduate.
Back in 2011, Ming enrolled in the Tong’s Antai College of Economics & Management, right after his retirement from the NBA. Throughout his time on campus, the seven-foot Rockets baller took custom-made classes with a one-on-one professor setting because his celebrity status would’ve put the campus in a constant state of bewilderment.
According to CGTN, when Ming joined the Chinese Basketball Association at the age of 17, he promised his parents that he would return back to school. During his speech, he encouraged his fellow graduates to align their futures with society and even joked a bit about his seven-year journey in college.
“At a certain stage in the future, you should try to combine your future with the future of the society, because that’s how you can find larger space for yourself to explore,” said Yao.
“Let me quote a famous conversation that happened on a basketball court 11 years ago, ‘This is going to be your league in a little while.’ Trust me, when a man spends seven years in university to graduate at age 38, he knows what he’s talking about,” he added.
Ming revealed his full-time position as a professional basketball player caused him to have less time geared towards studying, hindering his chance of graduating. The basketball legend also struggled with higher mathematics to which in addition to playing ball, influenced him several times to consider dropping out. He is officially one of many ballplayers who contribute to the opposed status quo of players who finish their degrees after their professional career is done.
He has also been active as a philanthropist tackling environmental crusades in China such as the ivory trade. Through the Yao Foundation, Ming is on a mission to rebuild the schools that were affected by the 2008 earthquake into earthquake-resistant buildings which will benefit nearly 1000 students.