DOB: August 23, 1988
Birthplace: Torrance, CA
What fascinates me about Jeremy Lin is not so much his stardom as a basketball phenomenon but that he has accomplished what only a handful of other Asians have done- play in the NBA. It’s this unusual achievement coupled with his rise as beloved icon to millions of Asians around the world that makes him an enigma of sorts, a status that I suspect Lin finds highly uncomfortable.
When I first met him at his wax figure unveiling at Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in San Francisco, he was surrounded by about a dozen or so family members, all of them, including Lin himself, quiet, unassuming people with genuine smiles. Without Lin’s familiar face and tall stature, they brood could have easily been mistaken as any other Asian family in the bay area. His family were shy in facing the press, obviously unaccustomed to the flashing lights and rabid attention despite Lin’s fast track rise to superstardom.
Lin himself speaks with quiet assurance, answering question after question with unrehearsed honesty and the kind of steadiness you would expect of a Harvard educated man who comes from a decent, hard-working family. In all the madness of being surrounded by those flashing lights and reporters throwing out questions unceasingly, he darts his eyes around, almost dazed by the attention. The humility and slight confusion on his face spoke clearly that this was a guy who simply loves basketball and didn’t understand what all the fuss around him was.
I had a chance to briefly interview him one on one at Madame Tussauds, which for those of you who have not been or haven’t seen Lin’s wax figure, should make a point to visit. (It’s uncanny the realism of most of these figures, definitely a must-visit for fans of Lin’s and numerous other celebrities, including Jennifer Aniston, George Clooney, President Obama and Steven Spielberg).
D: You have sixteen family members here today at your wax figure unveiling. Does your entire family live in the San Francisco bay area?
J: They’re actually mostly all over the east coast, Boston, Virginia…it just coincided with this.
D: Are you still working on your Chinese?
J: Not as much as before the Asia trip but still practicing here and there. It’s not official lessons or anything but I can handle everyday conversations.
D: How big a role has your family played in your success?
J: They’re everything. Next to God and everything He’s done for me, they’re the next closest thing for sure. The way my parents raised me, allowing me to play basketball which is not common in an Asian American household. My brothers and extended family who’ve supported me- it’s been incredible. I’m just glad I can share this moment with them.
D: How did your parents react when you started playing basketball? Was it a traditional Asian parents’ reaction?
J: You mean growing up?
J: Well, they saw how much I loved it and said, “If you love it that much…” It wasn’t just me. It was me and my brothers. My parents wanted me to do art and piano.
D: Did you play piano?
J: I did but I wasn’t getting any better at it. I wasn’t practicing. It was like pulling teeth to get me to sit there. So they just kind of let us run with basketball.
The following questions were asked by other media present at the wax figure unveiling at Madame Tussaud’s.
Media: Did you ever come to Madame Tussaud’s (Wax Museum in San Francisco) as a kid?
J: I did one time. I didn’t walk through the whole thing but one time.
Media: Any message for the Asian kids in America?
J: Yeah, just work hard and enjoy what you do.
Bio (From NBA)
Born Jeremy Shu-How Lin on August 23, 1988 in Palo Alto, California…son of Gie-Ming and Shirley Lin. Lin has two brothers, Joseph and Josh. On Golden State’s road trip to Boston in March 2011, he returned to Harvard campus to pick up his degree as he was unable to participate in the graduation ceremy the previous summder due to conflicts with preparing for the NBA.
After signing with the Warriors in the summer of 2010, Lin traveled to Taipei to take part in Yao Ming’s Charity games. That marked his first trip to Taiwan, the birthplace of both of his parents. He was a four year letterwinner and three year starter at Palo Alto High School. Lin captained his high school team to the CIF Division II State title by scoring 17 points in an upset of nationally ranked Mater Dei in the finals (51-47). He was three time First-Team All Santa Clara Valley Athletic League selection at guard, two-time SCVAL Most Valuable Player. As a senior, he was named Northern California Division II Player of the Year, Northern California Scholar Athlete of the Year and First-Team All-State.
The San Francisco Chronicle and San Jose Mercury News named him Player of the Year during his senior year. His GPA in high school was a 4.2. Among his notable high school accomplishments, Lin was a summer intern for California Senator Joe Simitian, earned school’s President Award as Vision New America 2004 Scholarship award.
Lin enjoys spending time with family and friends, listening to music, playing cards and video games, as well as going to church.