Brooklyn Nets point guard Jeremy Lin recently opened up about his journey to the top as the first Chinese-American NBA player and shared how humility and determination allowed him to rise above the damaging stereotypes associated with Asian-American athletes.
During a recent interview with CCTV-5, the main sports broadcaster in the People's Republic of China, Lin, an outspoken Christian, revealed that for him, success was not immediate. In fact, despite his obvious athletic ability, he was often overlooked because he is an Asian-American with an economics degree from Harvard.
While the odds were stacked against him, Lin refused to give up, determined to play professional basketball. Thankfully, his parents supported his dream: "My parents told me...'If you love basketball this much, then keep playing,'" he said. "My senior year (in college), I didn't apply for any job, no interviews, nothing... only enter the NBA draft."
But even after making it in the NBA, Lin continued to face criticism from those who questioned his ability.
"At first, when I was younger, I would get really mad (at critics)," he recalled. "They always said 'too slow, he's not quick, I thought to myself, how is that possible? The entire NBA combine, John Wall and I were the fastest / quickest. They had the measurements. They saw that I was an Asian, (they said) 'Oh, he must be able to shoot, but he has no athleticism.'"
He added, "Sometimes I wanted to quit, wanted to retire, didn't want to play anymore. I kept telling myself, if you aren't happy playing basketball, then just retire. Don't have to play anymore."
Nevertheless, he continued to persevere - backed by his family and agent, Roger Montgomery - working hard to achieve his goals.
The athlete's hard work and determination paid off, and it was when Lin was with the Knicks that the "Linsanity" craze got started and he became a more recognized sports name by unexpectedly leading the Knicks to a winning record in the 2011-2012 season.
Lin, who in July signed a $36 million deal with the Nets, revealed that despite his tremendous success, people still sometimes call him inappropriate racial terms, and he's even been asked to present his credentials to prove that he's an NBA player.
To help fight the bullying of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Lin last year took part in a White House public campaign called "Act To Change", and in a recent article posted on the Newsela website, advised others on how to overcome adversity and bullying.
"My lesson that I learned and if there is anything I can pass on to you guys is a lot of times bullies bully other people because of insecurities they have in themselves. Don't let anyone else tell you who you are or what you can or can't do," he advised. "Definitely look inside yourself, have confidence in yourself, believe in yourself and understand what makes you such a unique and special person.Everybody has different and really cool characteristics and talents."
Lin encouraged the younger generation to remember that like him, it's possible to become stronger after surviving being bullied.
"Never lose sight of that and just always stay positive and hopefully one day you'll take a look back at these experiences and realize, 'hey me getting bullied or me having to go through these experiences only made me stronger.'"