Yao Ming (Chinese: 姚明; pinyin: Yáo Míng; born September 12, 1980) is a retired Chinese professional basketball player who last played for the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). As of the 2010–11 NBA season, he was the tallest player in the NBA, at 2.29 m (7 ft 6 in).
Yao, who was born in Shanghai, started playing for the Shanghai Sharks as a teenager, and played on their senior team for five years in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), winning a championship in his final year. After negotiating with the CBA and the Sharks to secure his release, Yao was selected by the Houston Rockets as the first overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft. Yao has since been selected to start for the Western Conference in the NBA All-Star Game eight times, and has been named to the All-NBA Team five times. He reached the NBA Playoffs four times, and the Rockets won a first-round series in the 2009 postseason for the first time since 1997. However Yao had missed 250 regular-season games due to injury in the past six seasons.
He is one of China's best-known athletes, with sponsorships with several major companies, and he has been the richest celebrity in China for six straight years. His rookie year in the NBA was the subject of a documentary film, The Year of the Yao, and he co-wrote, along with NBA analyst Ric Bucher, an autobiography titled Yao: A Life in Two Worlds.