Fabulous!!! It’s the story of the kid who never gave up and the struggling NBA player who brought basketball fans back to the NBA. As a teacher it made me feel great that Jeremy Lin is a role model for many of the kids that we teach every day. They will love to read his book and we teachers will love to tell his story. — Mandy Wurtz, NYCBOE Physical Education and Health Teacher at School Of the Future, NY
Jeremy Lin: From the End of the Bench to Stardomby Bill Davis
This true story is truly “Lin-sane!” The world is exposed to an individual like Jeremy Lin only once in a generation. His journey has taken him from practicing lay-ups on the court at the local YMCA to hitting last minute game-winners on the grand stage at Madison Square Garden. This book charts Jeremy’s life story, from the streets of/b>… See more details below
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This true story is truly “Lin-sane!” The world is exposed to an individual like Jeremy Lin only once in a generation. His journey has taken him from practicing lay-ups on the court at the local YMCA to hitting last minute game-winners on the grand stage at Madison Square Garden. This book charts Jeremy’s life story, from the streets of Palo Alto to the dormitories of Harvard to the major arenas throughout the country. Through exclusive interviews, play-by-plays, and colorful recollections, we get an intimate look at Jeremy’s story. It is one of unyielding determination, true faith, and unimaginable success.
- Right Fit Publishing
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- Age Range:
- 10 - 14 Years
Read an Excerpt
From the End of the Bench to Stardom
By Bill Davis
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 2012 Right Fit Publishing
All rights reserved.
The Early Years
"Players don't usually come out of nowhere. If you can go back and take a look, [Jeremy Lin's] skill level was probably there from the beginning ..."
—Kobe Bryant, February 10, 2012
The summer of 1988 was unusually sweltering. A heat wave had launched a full-court press on the city of Los Angeles, California. Summer traffic took Wilshire and Sunset boulevards hostage, mobs of tourists trampled the star-studded Hollywood streets, and bodybuilders flexed and released on the boardwalks of Venice Beach.
The heat, however, was not the only anomaly that summer. The Los Angeles Dodgers were having a miraculous baseball season. Led by Orel Hershiser and Kirk Gibson, the Dodgers were wrapping up a wildly successful August with a 17-12 record, following a June in which the team went 17-9. The underdog Dodgers would go on to defeat the heavily favored New York Mets for the National League Championship. Then they would face the Oakland Athletics in the World Series, beating them 4 games to 1. Hershiser's success wasn't sudden, but it was surprising because he was smaller than most major league baseball players. Despite what could have been a setback, Hershiser's uncompromising work ethic and focus on the basics gave him the edge he needed. Two decades later, this same idea would hold true for a certain Asian-American athlete who would take the world by storm. For now, Hershiser was grabbing headlines throughout the country. It was the season of the Underdog, when it felt like anything could happen. It was as if there was something in the air.
A few miles from Dodger Stadium, Gie-Ming and Shirley Lin were welcoming their second child into the world. Jeremy Shu-How Lin was born on August 23, 1988. For his parents, who were Taiwanese immigrants, their son seemed to represent the American Dream – both a symbol of its possibilities and a reminder that hard work will ensure a bright future. Jeremy's presence brought the Lin family up to four. His older brother, Josh, was born in 1987. About five years later, his brother Joseph would join the Lin family. There were now five players for the Lin squad, enough to form a team of their own.
In fact, throughout Jeremy's life, his family – namely his parents – would become and remain his most important teammates. As Fu-Chang Lo, a member of Lin's family church, told The New York Times, "Jeremy's life was formed by his parents." Throughout the many stories of Lin's rise, there is one notion that is certain – there would be no "Linsanity" without Lin's parents. While his father inspired in Jeremy a love for the game and helped hone his skills, Jeremy's mother nurtured her son's work ethic and helped create new opportunities for Jeremy to play basketball.
Gie-Ming Lin – Jeremy's father – was born in the early 1950s in Beidou, Taiwan. During Gie-Ming's childhood, Taiwan was a one-party state ruled under martial law. Even without much freedom, Gie-Ming fought to get an education. Being a great student was a family tradition – his father and grandfather before him were unusually learned men. And so he charted a path to National Taiwan University, the "Harvard" of Taiwan. After graduation, an NTU-alumnus, Ping Tcheng, then a professor at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, was looking for an engineering research assistant. He offered Gie-Ming the position.
In 1977, Gie-Ming Lin left Taiwan for Norfolk, Virginia. His immigration to America was not only for academic and career opportunities. Whether knowingly or not, Gie-Ming embarked on a journey that had been years in the making, spurred by a sport he had witnessed only a handful of times. But even on those rare occasions, it was evident Gie-Ming had fallen in love with basketball. As Jeremy Lin told ESPN's Dana O'Neil in 2009, "My dad is a complete basketball junkie."
For years, Jeremy's father had hoped that he would journey to the birthplace of basketball. As Gie-Ming admits, a research assistant position and the desire to earn a master's degree were not his only motivators for moving to the States. He wanted "to watch the NBA." Soon after he arrived in the United States, Gie-Ming began recording NBA games and the players who inspired him. Over time he would collect hours upon hours of footage of the legends themselves – players like Julius Erving and Moses Malone, who was awarded the NBA's MVP award at age 23.
In part, it was this love of basketball that set him on a path that would lead him to his life's greatest love, his wife Shirley. At Old Dominion, Gie-Ming met Xinxin Wu, (who became known as Shirley upon arrival in Virginia). She was a beautiful, computer-science student. From Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Shirley was a sweet, no-nonsense academic as stunning as she was smart. The couple soon fell in love. After Gie-Ming completed his master's degree in mechanical engineering in December 1979, he and Shirley moved to Purdue University, where the two continued their studies. After the couple completed their degrees – Gie-Ming earned a doctorate in computer science – they followed various work opportunities around the country before settling in Ranchos Palos Verdes, California, in 1985.
It was during this time, living in a suburb of Los Angeles, that Gie-Ming was looking for a way to unwind from the stress and strains of work. "I thought it would be great to play basketball," Gie-Ming recalled of the time. As O'Neil reported for ESPN:
"Only problem? He didn't have the slightest idea how. He had never picked up a ball in his life. So he turned his attention back to those gripping NBA games. Armed with videotapes of his favorite players, Gie-Ming studied the game with the same fervor he studied for his Ph.D. 'I would just imitate them over and over; I got my hook shot from Kareem,' Gie-Ming said, laughing."
Soon, Gie-Ming was practicing regularly at the local YMCA. At the time it was a simple, somewhat small sports-club near the Lin home. The gymnasium was spacious and lively, but unassuming. Dull colors covered the walls. The court was scuffed with sneaker marks. The balls were worn and faded – it was impossible to decipher the Spaldings from the Wilsons. These days, the complex is more modern. The north façade now doubles as a rock-climbing wall. Air balls – with pristine manufacturer logos intact - constantly peg the "boulders" on the wall. The court's buffed surface shimmers. Once a site of the commonplace, the arena has become a place of notoriety. After all, this is where Jeremy most likely shot his first three-pointer, or where he executed his first give-and-go. Now there is an aura of excitement about the gymnasium. It plays like an "Eighth Wonder of the World" in Palo Alto. The backboards, rims, and floorboards seem sacred.
At the time, however, it was a simple classroom. First, Gie-Ming entered as a student. He continued to hone his skills and even started to partake in some pick-up games. A few years later, after the births of his three sons, he became a teacher. It was in 1992 that Gie-Ming first brought his oldest son Joshua to the YMCA to practice drills. Josh was five years old at the time. A couple of years later Jeremy joined in on the action, and then Joseph a few years after.
The Gie-Ming-led practice sessions became a tri-weekly event. Homework had to be completed and dinner gulped down before trekking across town to play ball. The elder Lin focused on the basics. "I realized if I brought them from a young age it would be like second nature for them," Gie-Ming told ESPN. "If they had the fundamentals, the rest would be easy." The drills were tedious. Yet the boys loved every minute. Their joy, commitment, and enchantment with the sport were contagious.
These basketball clinics were among the most cherished memories the boys shared with their father. Basketball became a pastime for the Lins. It placed up there with the family's love of fishing. In embracing the American sport of basketball, it was as if the Lins had finally established their place in the community, and in a larger sense, the country. It was a testament that the American Dream was alive and well within Joshua's, Jeremy's and Joseph's spirits.
Gie-Ming's efforts to develop his sons' talents echoed the efforts of other fathers of professional athletes. Tiger Woods' father, Earl, began priming Tiger for a career in golf before the child prodigy reached the age of two. Richard Williams, the father of Venus and Serena, coached his daughters vigorously throughout their teens. Michael Jordan's father, James R. Jordan, Sr., was equally as involved with his son's training. But Gie-Ming's story stands alone. While many of these father coaches were athletes in their own right, Gie-Ming only learned the fundamentals of the game a few years before he taught his sons. It was not about athleticism, though he was certainly athletic. It was more about perseverance and the capacity to learn. Gie-Ming's ability to teach his sons the game of basketball so successfully shows that we can achieve anything we put our minds to. Perhaps it was this lesson that resonated so deeply with Joshua, Jeremy, and Joseph.
Gie-Ming Lin was not the only parent to impart an example of excellence onto his children. Jeremy's mother, Shirley was an equal partner in Jeremy's path to basketball stardom. It is rare to hear stories about a mother of an athlete being so intimately involved in her child's craft. Sure, most athletes will give credit for their success to their mothers – all of those hours of driving, late-night pep talks, unconditional love, good morals, etc. But we do not hear much about the mothers who understand techniques of the sport or the analytics of the game. Shirley Wu was a powerhouse in that respect. She built up an uncanny knowledge of the game and was a tremendous asset for Jeremy. Aside from being a common fixture and vocal supporter at games, Shirley would "[organize] rides to games" and "[print] out statistics of upcoming opponents." Shirley was the driving force behind starting an advanced basketball program for elementary school-aged students, when Jeremy was of the age. Thanks to Shirley's efforts, a National Junior Basketball program was created in Palo Alto, California. Jeremy's mother also insisted that schoolwork came first. So long as Jeremy kept up his grades, he was allowed to play basketball. She reinforced the idea that a successful person should have both a strong mind and a strong body. Academics were as important as athletics.
Although Shirley worked full-time, her devotion to her children was unmatched. In Jeremy's case, Shirley made his passion her passion. She took part in educating herself about the game her son loved so much. She concentrated her time and efforts in making him as successful at this sport as possible. She worked tirelessly to take advantage of existing opportunities and create new avenues for Jeremy to hone his skills. She championed her son and his talents simply because basketball was something that Jeremy loved so dearly. She inspired Jeremy to believe that he could achieve anything he wished. Lin's high school coach and long-time mentor, Peter Diepenbrock, credits Shirley with Lin's successful spirit. As he told ESPN's Tim Keown, "'You know how parents tell their kids they can do anything? Most people just say it to say it, but Jeremy's mom lives it. Because of that, Jeremy's always had this ridiculous confidence level.'"
Shirley also encouraged Jeremy to continue playing basketball during the summers. In fifth grade Jeremy enrolled in a basketball camp in Palo Alto. It was here that he met Diepenbrock, who was helping to run the program. Little did Jeremy know that this man would later change his life. Even during Jeremy's elementary school years, Diepenbrock noticed something exceptional in him. As Diepenbrock told The Daily Beast, "Obviously [Jeremy] was very, very small, but a very good player – very good instincts, very good feel – and his leadership stuck out." He would later have the privilege of coaching Lin at Palo Alto High School.
But first it was off to middle school for Jeremy. He enrolled at Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School in Palo Alto and in his first year tried out for the school's basketball team. He was a scrawny kid with an intense spirit.
By the time he reached eighth grade, Jeremy's talent drew attention. Rick Chandler, who coached Jeremy during that 2001-2002 season, remembers the impression he made at the school. Chandler recalls the school's athletic director, Mike Ferolino, telling him during tryouts, "So there's this kid Jeremy Lin, and you're not going to have to watch him very much. He's about the best player we've ever had here; he's going right to the A team." In his column for NBC Sports, Chandler – now a reporter – recalls how Jeremy initially failed to stand out. Soon, however, "his game came into focus, and he was doing things that eighth graders aren't supposed to be able to do. Lin saw everything two moves ahead – something so rare for middle schoolers ... Toward the end of the first day, when Lin whipped a behind-the-back pass toward open air – only to have a teammate appear at the last second to catch it and take two steps in for a layin – I had seen enough," Chandler wrote. In an interview with the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza, Chandler elaborated on Lin's rareness. "He is one of the few players I've coached who came to me almost fully formed," Chandler said. "His grasp of the fundamentals was so far and away above the other players' that it just kind of amazed me, because in eighth grade you usually have to start from scratch." Chandler couldn't have known it at the time, but what he saw in Jeremy was a result of Gie-Ming's and Shirley's efforts all of those years. Jeremy's exceptional foundation was no fluke – it was the product of years of practice and hard work.
Jeremy's early years set the stage for his future success. Throughout this period Jeremy honed his basketball skills. His tri-weekly "basketball nights" with his father were undoubtedly a monumental beginning. So too were the hours of practice and regulation games for both school teams and private, advanced squads. These hours upon hours of work and development were instrumental. Jeremy was maturing as a player in terms of both technical skills and game strategy. But perhaps more importantly, Jeremy was developing a rich work ethic and showed unyielding effort. Even in these early stages, there was something special about Jeremy. He had a level of commitment and expertise that was unique for children his age. His coaches, friends, friends' parents, and others in their community noticed it.
Above all else, Jeremy's early years were shaped by his family's meaningful teachings. He began to showcase qualities of teamwork, humility, drive, and devotion both on and off the court. He applied the lessons he learned in the Lin family home to his basketball games. And vice versa. Ever present were the markings of Gie-Ming and Shirley's influences. They were magnetically positive and powerful. Couple that with Jeremy's ability to work hard and tackle challenges, and you had a recipe for success.
Years later, as a Harvard senior, Jeremy would have this to say about his parents:
"My dad has been a very special person in my life obviously and he has shown me the way and he is the reason why I got into basketball. And I want to include my mom on this. I just think I look up to my parents because when we talk about basketball, they don't necessarily talk always about whether we won or whether we scored a lot of points. I think they do a great job of teaching me about playing in a Godly manner. I think there will be times where I might have a great individual performance but I might lose my temper and that's what they're going to talk to me about ... I'm still learning from them. The way they see the game and the way they judge me on the court is more valuable than anything else they can do."
In the past few weeks, commentators, reporters, and pundits alike have classified the 6-foot, 3-inch superstar as an overnight success who "came out of nowhere." His early life, however, shows this is not really true. Instead, his success developed over the course of many nights: First, three nights a week at the YMCA and, later, on game nights at Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School.
After middle school, the nocturnal contests were just heating up. Jeremy wished to continue his path to success in high school. The only question was what kind of an impact Jeremy would have at Palo Alto High School. Clocking in around 5 feet tall with a shot that originated from below the hip, Jeremy's success as a high school player was uncertain. It would be another summer of practice, fishing, and In-N-Out burgers – Jeremy's favorite – before his high school career would begin. Only this summer, the summer of 2002, things were a little different.
There was no heat wave this summer. The temperature remained somewhat cool. But although it wasn't sweltering, as Jeremy prepared for his first year of high school, there still seemed to be something special in the air.
Excerpted from Jeremy Lin by Bill Davis. Copyright © 2012 Right Fit Publishing. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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