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Jeremy Lin and Gie-ming Lin:

Turning Ridicule into Motivation


Turning Ridicule into Motivation


In this exclusive interview, NBA sensation Jeremy Lin and his father Gie-ming Lin discuss the life lessons that lay the groundwork for his success.



Turning Ridicule into Motivation

By Ming-ling Hsieh
From CommonWealth Magazine (vol. 491 )

Last August, Jeremy Lin had just finished an unremarkable year with the Golden State Warriors, and his future was on hold because of the NBA strike. He spent most of his first year sitting the bench and facing the constant pressure of getting cut. In an interview with CommonWealth Magazine at the time, Lin, accompanied by his father, spoke of his frustrations and lessons learned, and revealed his natural inclination toward teamwork, perseverance, and performing better the tougher the competition. Here are excerpts from that interview.

Gie-ming Lin: Giving in Not Part of His Personality

From an Asian's perspective, he has always been a good basketball player. So he created miracles wherever he played in school – in junior high, high school and even at the university level.

In the United States, it is not easy for Asians to reach such heights, a sign that he has natural talent. But when you normally play with him, you don't see anything special. It's only when he goes up against a superior opponent that he steps up his game, shows his determination and refuses to give in.

Watching him play, he always gives 120 percent. It's just a matter of seeing how far he can go.

When he was a junior in high school, his team reached the final round of the Northern California playoffs. Before the game, he got injured (in a meaningless pick-up game) and had to rest for two to three months. That experience served as a wake-up call. It changed his outlook on life by making him realize that he couldn't take basketball for granted.

His attitude began to change, and he became more dedicated to studying and trained more intensely. He was also more cooperative and willing to listen to his coaches. He became a better basketball player as a result.

This boy has taken a real interest in basketball and has been willing to devote time to it. Even if there've been ups and downs, at the very least, he has already attained his goal. So no matter what happens from this point on, he has achieved his life's goal and ideal, and will not be saddled with any regrets.

Jeremy Lin: Failure Is not Giving Myself the Chance to Succeed

A Born Talent?

I don't think many people would have predicted it or seen it coming. Coming out of high school and not getting any scholarship offers and… definitely developing later in my career.

The Stereotypes

Coming out of high school and just being Asian, and maybe people thinking I would not be very good. Even as I was coming out of college just trying to get drafted. (Lin went undrafted.) And me being Asian definitely had something to do with it. Those stereotypes – people looking at me and immediately thinking, "Oh, he's not gonna be that good."

I went to go play in a Pro-Am league, a semi professional league, when I was in college, and I showed up at the gym and someone told me, like, "Volleyball's canceled. This is basketball now."

I was just like: "Okay. That's nice to know, but I'm here to play basketball."


It just gives me more motivation. There's a stereotype about Asian athletes, Asian basketball players. And for me, I don't agree with them. And so, as I continue to play, I want to get better, and hopefully I can break down as many stereotypes as I can.

Moment of Realization

When I broke my ankle. I broke my ankle my junior year (in high school), and it changed my life because it taught me not to take basketball for granted. That's when I started to learn what it means to work hard.

Defining Failure

Failure for me is not giving myself the best chance to succeed. When I was in high school my junior year, I had a really bad attitude, because I was very arrogant. We were winning a lot of games, and I was just not… I think for me that was a failure because I didn't push myself, I didn't improve as much as I could have, and I didn't become as good of a player, because I was too busy thinking how good I was.

So for me that's failure. I think you can lose and still succeed in different ways. Succeeding is getting the most you can out of yourself, pushing yourself and working hard and reaching your potential.

Translated from the Chinese by Luke Sabatier