Who Are Yao Zhiyuan And Fang Fengdi? Yao Ming Parents

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Yao Ming parents, Yao Zhiyuan and Fang Fengdi, are former basketball players. Ming is the only child of Zhiyuan and Fengdi. 

In 2002, the Chinese basketball player Yao Ming had all the attention on him. Drafted as the first overall pick, Ming’s tall stature had everyone gasping. 

The former NBA star is also widely discussed for his rivalry turned friendship with Shaquille O’Neal

Yao Ming With NFL Legend Peyton Manning During A Ceremony In 2016
Yao Ming With NFL Legend Peyton Manning (Left) During A Ceremony In 2016 (Source: Instagram)

Standing at 7ft 6 in his prime, Yao Ming became an icon of the game in his country and worldwide during the early 2000s. Today, Ming is the executive of Chinese basketball and is one of the most recognizable faces. 

After his retirement in 2011, Ming was inducted into the Hall of Fame in April 2016. In his honor, Houston Rockets retired his jersey no. 11. 

Yao Ming Parents Yao Zhiyuan And Fang Fengdi 

Yao Ming parents, Yao Zhiyuan and Fang Fengdi, are former athletes turned entrepreneurs. 

Zhiyuan and Fang Fengdi were basketball stars in China before the birth of their son.

They played for the Chinese National team and received special treatment from the government after their son’s birth. Though the Chinese government doesn’t force tall people to play basketball, they can suggest it to families. 

Yao Ming Pictured With His Dad And Mom(Right) And His Wife And Their Daughter During A Ceremony
Yao Ming Pictured With His Dad And Mom(Right) And His Wife And Their Daughter During A Ceremony (Source: Twitter)

Ming was predicted to be unusually tall from a young age as both of his parents were tall. Zhiyuan stood at 6ft 7, and his wife stood at 6ft 3.

Ming was different from the other kids, which could’ve made him an outcast.

But mostly, Ming received special attention from the doctors, teachers, and everyone around him. The Chinese government would provide his family extra stipend to purchase food for him. 

After NBA came calling, Ming, with his parents, shifted to the United States. For a long time, Yao continued to live with his parents, a trait the American media, at times, would find baffling and mention in their stories of him. 

Life In The States 

As Yao settled in the United States, so did his parents. In 2005,  Zhiyuan and Fengdi opened a restaurant in Houston, Texas, named it after their family name, “Yao Restaurant & Bar.”

The restaurant might be closed now, but it had quite a fanfare back in the day. The former NBA star had solely invested $1.5 million in the restaurant, which also featured a VIP room for the NBA players. 

His parents had also invested in the project along with their friends from their 1970s basketball team.

In a 2010 interview with Houma Today, the father of the eight times NBA All-Star said that he knew his son was a strong athlete but never imagined him to be this famous. 

Yao Ming Wife & Children

In 2007, the former NBA player tied the knot with his long-time girlfriend after being in a relationship for seven years. The three-hour ceremony was held in Shanghai and was attended by their close family members and friends. 

Yao Ming’s parents aren’t the only athletes in the family. His wife, Ye Li, is a former basketball player as well. 

Standing 6ft 3, Ye Li met her husband as a teenager in 1999. In the beginning, it was a one-sided love. It was the NBA star that was persistent but Ye showed no interest. 

Yao Ming Wife Ye Li Pictured Carrying Their Daughter Yao Qinlei
Yao Ming’s Wife, Ye Li, Pictured Carrying Their Daughter Yao Qinlei (Source: Instagram)

But she later gave up, and the two started seeing each other. One story of them even claims that Ming gave Li his team pins he collected during the 2000 Summer Olympics to prove his love for her. 

Li is also an Olympian like her husband, representing the Chinese women’s basketball team in the 2004 Summer Olympics. 

The couple welcomed their only child, a daughter named Yao Qinlei, on May 21, 2010. In 2022, the LAI Times reported that Yao’s daughter stood at 1.85m.

So, it won’t be a shock if Qinlei goes the same path as her father. Yao doesn’t share much of his private life on social media.

In 2018, the NBA legend shared a picture of his wife and daughter on his Instagram with a heart emoji in the caption. This remains the only photo of his family he has shared on his social media.

Sriyukta Pradhananga
Sriyukta Pradhananga

Sriyukta Pradhananga

Sriyukta Pradhananga is a versatile writer with a keen interest in exploring the multifaceted dimensions of sports. Her articles offer readers a dynamic blend of insightful analysis, engaging storytelling, and thought-provoking commentary that sheds light on the diverse experiences within the athletic realm.


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  • Sriyukta keeps abreast of the latest advancements in sports technology.
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With a background in journalism and a passion for sports, Sriyukta approaches each article with a blend of curiosity, rigor, and creativity. She strives to illuminate the complexities and nuances of the sports world, sparking meaningful conversations and inspiring readers to engage more deeply with the athletic endeavors that unite us all.

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