Yao Ming's expected baby stirs fresh Yao fever in China

09:31, January 07, 2010      

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YY: they don't mean much right now, but Chinese basketball fans hope these two initials could herald future victories for the national team.

"YY" looks certain to be the nickname of Houston Rockets star Yao Ming's first child, whose imminent arrival was broken on Chinese television on Monday by Miao Lijie, a friend of Yao's wife, Ye Li.

The letters are the twinned initials of Yao and Ye, explained Miao on a live TV show in Shanghai.

Miao, who plays alongside Ye on the Chinese women's basketball team, said Ye was quietly expecting the couple's first baby at home.

The news, which was later confirmed by Zhang Chi, Yao's spokesman in Shanghai, triggered a barrage of baby names on the Internet, as well as predictions about its height, gender and nationality.

Suggested names for the child are found in every major forum and portal. The most popular suggestion was Yao Yuchun in reference to Li Yuchun, winner of Super Girl, a nationwide singing contest.

The facial resemblance of Yao Ming and Li Yuchun has long been a hot topic on Chinese portals.

The name took the lead over traditional and auspicious Chinese names and those coined with basketball big names like Yao'neal, Yao Kobe.

Although sources of sina.com, one of China's largest portals, said the baby would not be born until May or June, fans have already made predictions on its eventual height.

According to on-line commentator "Li," who claims to be a doctor, a genetic equation show the height of a son would range from 2.075 to 2.215 meters and that of a daughter from 1.945 to 2.085 meters.

But he added that it was possible that Yao junior could outgrow the father. In a vote held by sina.com, 29,000 Internet users agreed that Yao junior will be taller than 2.05 meters while 12,592 others believed that the child's height could exceed 2.2 meters.

Yao Ming and Ye Li both played center in China's national men's and women's basketball teams. Yao is 2.26 meters tall and Ye 1.9 meters.

Miao said the couple had wanted a boy, fearing that a girl might be too tall among her peers. A story on sina.com, however, quoted an anonymous source as saying the baby would be a girl.

The place of the delivery also drew speculation as it would decide the child's nationality. Many feared the baby could be born in the United States, making it an American citizen.

Ye is currently at the couple's home in Shanghai and the couple were yet to decide where the child would be born, said Zhang Chi. "It's a personal matter. Please respect their decision."

Zhang declined to reveal or comment on the gender of the baby and its expected date of birth.

"Please give Yao and Ye more room for privacy to face this significant transition in their lives," Zhang requested of the media and the public.

Yao, 29, and Ye, 28, both single children, were married in 2007.

Source: Xinhua
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