Yao Ming is a Third-Year College Student in China

Retired NBA center Yao Ming is now towering over college students in China — Yao, a third-year student at Jiao Tong University, wishes he could live on campus. Per the NY Times (via Deadspin): “Carrying a lunch prepared by his wife, Ye Li, a 6-foot-3 former player in China’s professional league, Mr. Yao drives more than an hour to Jiao Tong University, where he sits through his required courses in the economics and management department. According to one Chinese news report, Mr. Yao would prefer to live in the dorms with his 20-year-old classmates, a move that would save time and energy, ‘but the beds are too small.’ … ‘When I signed my first professional contract with the Shanghai Sharks at age 17, I promised my parents that, after my basketball career ended, I would pursue my studies at the university level,’ Mr. Yao told reporters in Shanghai. Now in his third year at Jiao Tong University, Mr. Yao is less than two years away from fulfilling that promise. It hasn’t always been easy. The 33-year-old can hardly walk anywhere on campus without being swarmed by fans and reportedly complained once that one of his professors was a former high school classmate. But true to his word, Mr. Yao has diligently continued studying, taking English, journalism and finance electives in addition to his required classes. On his first day of studies in the fall of 2011, Mr. Yao told reporters: ‘I feel good today, but a little tired, since I haven’t been in class for over 10 years. I am rusty.’ […] In 2013, he was promoted to the National Committee of the C.P.P.C.C. (Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body to the local government) alongside military officers, government officials, state-recognized religious leaders and other prominent figures. It is unclear whether Yao’s political responsibilities pose an impediment to his studies, but last week he was photographed in Chicago accompanying Vice Prime Minister Liu Yandong, China’s highest-ranking female politician, to a Chicago Bulls game.The two shared one of the arena’s spectator boxes with Scottie Pippen, the former Chicago Bull; Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel; and other notables.”