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2013 ALL STAR CHALLENGE: Basketball superstar Yao Ming combines entertainment with altruism
Towering above most of his fellow compatriots at an impressive 7 ft. 6 in (2.29 m), Yao Ming, China’s most famous athlete, was naturally the center of attention at the Venetian Cotai Arena yesterday precisely for what he does best – basketball. However his love of the game was not the only motive for his visit. The retired NBA star also focused his efforts on two other noble causes: training young athletes and giving something back to his homeland by helping raise funds for the Sichuan earthquake relief effort.
Yao spent an action-packed day in Macau yesterday conducting three basketball-related events. In the morning, he and his Shanghai Sharks team hosted a local youth basketball clinic and training session with 30 local players from the Macao-China Basketball Association (MCBA). This was then followed by a press conference together with Sands China Ltd. President and Chief Executive Officer Edward Tracy; former NBA pros Gary Payton, Jason Williams, Rafer Alston and Horace Grant; celebrities Alex Fong, Louis Cheung, Alien Huang, Godfrey Gao and Kelvin Kwan, and the Shanghai Sharks in anticipation of the highlight of the night – a celebrity All-Star basketball match.
Commenting on the event, Sands CEO Edward Tracy stated, “We’re very excited to have with us today retired NBA superstar Yao Ming and our good buddy, Mr. Gary Peyton, who will be coaching their teams in tonight’s All Star match. Yao Ming will lead the Shanghai Sharks against Gary Peyton’s all-star team of celebrities and ex-NBA pros”.
Aside from entertaining the crowd, there was also a charitable aspect to the night’s proceedings, as a way of raising money for the recent earthquake in Sichuan province. In a heartwarming moment at the press conference, basketball Coach Yang recounted how the event was especially personal for one of the players. “One of the young players we have actually, his family lives in Sichuan where the earthquake occurred. Fortunately his family is safe, so that this young player will be able to perform tonight with the Shanghai Sharks team”, he said.
Likewise, Yao Ming also revealed a personal motivation for his desire to give back. “I think it’s not the first time we faced such a tragedy in the last couple of years and Sichuan has been suffering from all kinds of natural disasters, and I think the people are really glad to accept and help each other. We are the same country, we are one family, like a family, we need to reach out and take care of each other” he said. “Maybe Sichuan is a couple thousand kilometers from here, but we all feel it each in our hearts”.
Mr Tracy similarly made a charitable pledge by contributing the night’s proceeds to the rebuilding effort: “We will also be donating all of our ticket sales revenue to the Macau Red Cross earthquake disaster relief in Sichuan province. In addition, Sands China Ltd. will match, dollar for dollar, every dollar that’s raised through the ticket sales”.
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