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NBA star and famed Chinese athlete, Yao Ming, announced his retirement from basketball Wednesday.
Yao has been on medical leave from the Houston Rockets after several injuries to his foot and ankle.
Speaking to a large audience in Beijing, Yao thanked his parents, coaches and fans.
[Yao Ming, Retiring from Basketball]:
"Nine years ago I came to Houston as a young, tall, skinny player. The entire city and the team changed me to a grown man, not only a basketball player, and also I gained my first daughter over there. I feel also I am like a Houstonian, and I will always be with you. Thank you."
Yao ignited China's interest in the NBA and became one of Asia's best-known athletes.
The seven foot six inch Yao became the first international player to make the top pick in the NBA draft in 2002, opening the door to lucrative NBA marketing ventures in China.