Yi Jianlian (simplified Chinese: 易建联; traditional Chinese: 易建聯; Pinyin: Yì Jiànlián; Cantonese: Yik6 Gin3 Lyun4, pronounced E GEE-ehn-LEE-ehn, born on October 27, 1987 (disputed) in Heshan, Guangdong, China) is a Chinese professional basketball player for the New Jersey Nets. Yi played power forward for the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) in 2002 and subsequently won the Rookie of the Year Award. In his five-year career with the Tigers, he won three CBA titles, as well as playing with the Chinese national basketball team in the 2004 Summer Olympics and the 2006 FIBA World Championships. In the 2007 NBA Draft, he was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association as the 6th overall pick. Yi refused to sign with the Bucks for several months before agreeing to a contract with them on August 29, 2007.
There has been controversy over Yi's age, as several reports have testified that his officially listed birth date of October 27, 1987, was intentionally falsified so he would be able to play longer in junior competitions. Yi has refused to comment on his age.
Yi was the only child of his father Yi Jingliu and mother Mai Meiling, who were both professional handball players. As a child, his parents initially did not want him to join a sports school, which is designed for children who are predicted to be future stars. However, after a sports school basketball coach noticed Yi playing streetball, he persuaded Yi's family to allow Yi to train professionally.