Jeremy Lin Recalls Painful Brush With Anti-Asian Hate In 6th Grade

Jeremy Lin continued to speak out this week against the ongoing surge in anti-Asian violence by pointing to the memory of an early brush with racist rhetoric. 

Appearing on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” Tuesday, the Santa Cruz Warriors point guard pointed to an incident that occurred when he was in middle school. At the time, he said members of a rival basketball team taunted him with racial epithets on the court. 

“When I was in sixth grade, we were playing in a basketball game,” Lin, whose family is from Taiwan, said. “We were playing against some people from Southern California. That’s when they were kind of like, ’Go back to China! You’re a Chinese import,’ and other stuff like that.” 

The incident, he said, was particularly hurtful because it took place on the basketball court, which he viewed as a safe space where he could feel confident about himself and his athletic skills. 

“I always felt like, on the court, it didn’t matter,” he explained. “Color didn’t matter, skin didn’t matter. It was just about who could play and who couldn’t.”

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Lin, 32, has been increasingly vocal about his heritage in recent weeks as the Asian American community grapples with a troubling rise in hate crimes and deadly violence believed to be exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In February, NBA officials announced they were launching an investigation into Lin’s complaint that another basketball player referred to him as “coronavirus” on the court.

Elsewhere in his “Ellen” interview, Lin expressed gratitude to his mother, Shirley, after recently learning of a personal sacrifice she’d made in helping him pursue his career as a professional basketball player. 

“She said, ‘I’m going to give you two years to chase your basketball dream. Don’t worry about the money,’” he recalled. “She didn’t tell me until a few years ago that that money came out of her 401(k). … That was just kind of a glimpse into the sacrifice that it took from my parents to be able to give me and my brothers a chance.”

Catch Jeremy Lin’s “Ellen DeGeneres Show” appearance below: 




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