Yao Ming (born 12 September 1980 in Shanghai, China) is a former professional basketball player who plays for the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). At one time he was the tallest player in the NBA, at 7 feet 5 inches (226.1 cm).
Yao Ming, 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. He entered the 2002 NBA Draft, and after negotiating with the CBA and the Sharks to secure his release, was selected by the Houston Rockets as the first overall pick of the draft. He has since been selected to start for the Western Conference in the NBA All-Star Game in all seven of his seasons, and has been named to the All-NBA Team five times. However, the Rockets have advanced past the first round of the playoffs only once since he joined the team, and he has missed significant time due to injury in each of the past four seasons.
Yao Ming is married to Ye Li, a former player for the China women's national basketball team. 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.
In November 2011, Yao Ming, global humanitarian and recently retired NBA star, announced the establishment of his new Napa Valley wine company: Yao Family Wines.