Yao was born in 1980 to parents who both played professional basketball, but he said he was never pressured to play. He began playing basketball at the age of nine because he was drawn to the sport. Of all the things Yao is involved in now, he said it is his family that is most important to him. “I have a daughter. Everything takes a back seat to my family,” he said. “My wife runs the house.” He said he’s glad to have Houston and Shanghai as home bases. “When I am in Houston, I miss Shanghai. When I’m in Shanghai, I miss Houston,” he said.