Friend hopes Yao Ming continues work to bring U.S., China together

10:25, July 26, 2011      

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A super fan of the Houston Rockets and a good friend of Yao Ming on Friday called the retired Rockets center "a true professional basketball player", and expressed the hope that Yao can work with the Rockets even on a part-time basis in the future to draw the United States and China together as he did in his NBA years.

Yao made his retirement official Wednesday, telling a packed news conference in his hometown Shanghai that a series of foot and leg injuries forced him to end his playing career at the age of 30.

Dennis L. Laviage, president and CEO of a recycling company, C &D Scrap Metal Recyclers Co., has been a cooperate partner of the Rockets for six years and is ready for a seventh-year contract.

Laviage became Yao's personal friend about three years ago through a mutual friend of theirs. Yao and his family visited Laviage's lakeside weekend home in Houston, and Laviage also was invited to spend a week with Yao Ming in Shanghai.

"Yao Ming is an extremely nice person, very generous. One thing that really sticks out is that he is a professional basketball player," Laviage told Xinhua reporters on Friday in his office in Houston.

"His (Yao's) life is basketball. His parents played professional basketball, his wife played professional basketball. His whole life was devoted to basketball," he said.

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