Now it’s official, at just 30 years old! Yao Ming has announced his decision to retire from the National Basketball Association after a series of injuries made it impossible for him to continue to compete. Yao Ming says he’s not leaving basketball, however, and will continue to work for his former Chinese team, the Shanghai Sharks as well as with his charity group the Yao Foundation.
Yao Ming’s height was one of his biggest assets. It helped him rise through China’s national sports system to the NBA. But his massive stature was also the cause of the wear and tear on his leg and ankle that forced him to retire.
Yao Ming spent his entire eight-year NBA career playing for the Houston Rockets, who made him their top draft pick in 2002. Injuries forced him to miss hundreds of games during that period. During his last season, he played only five games after suffering a stress fracture in his left foot for the third time.
Despite his injuries, Yao Ming averaged 19 points and nine rebounds, leading the Rockets to four post-season playoff appearances. He made the NBA’s All-Star team eight times.