Basketball star Jeremy Lin urges fans to 'be the light' during coronavirus pandemic

Basketball star Jeremy Lin has a unique perspective on the coronavirus pandemic.

The point guard spent nearly a decade in the NBA, and now, thanks to a deal he signed last August with the Beijing Ducks of the Chinese Basketball Association, he’s continuing his career in the country where the pandemic first began.

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In a piece this week for The Player’s Tribune, Lin shared his experience in the midst of the outbreak.

“When the COVID-19 outbreak started, I was at the epicenter of it all,” Lin wrote. “And I didn’t take it remotely seriously. Maybe it’s just human nature, I don’t know. People were dying in the country where I was playing basketball, in the country where my grandparents were born and raised, and what was I thinking about? Honestly, I was only thinking about myself.”

Lin made the trek back to his home state of California. In the United States, as he watched sports leagues get postponed and much of the country (including California) go into lockdown while the number of American cases skyrocketed, Lin’s indifferent demeanor quickly pivoted to worry.

“You would think that I would’ve been more prepared for it, coming from China and seeing my own season suspended, but honestly, it was just as shocking for me,” Lin said. “It was like watching something from a disaster movie, each surreal step hitting closer and closer to home.”

On March 11, Lin announced that he and his basketball foundation in China have donated 1 million Chinese yuan “to get medical equipment to Wuhan,” the Chinese city at the center of the outbreak. He also said he planned to donate additional funds to fight the virus.

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Over the past few weeks, I’ve been monitoring coronavirus and the darkness it’s casted over the world. News headlines of racism, xenophobia, attacks on Asians and decaying trust towards people. All heartbreaking and the opposite of God's kingdom. But for every fear-inducing headline, I see hope. I see doctors and nurses fighting the front lines in China, Korea, Japan, Iran, Italy and more. I see people helping people in countries regardless of race or background. Talk less out of hate, more out of empathy. Lets talk about the man who made 16,000 meals for frontline workers. Lets appreciate the doctor who postponed his wedding and then tragically lost his life fighting the virus. He's a hero.Lets be inspired and demand justice for Meera Solanki who defended her Asian friend against an aggressive man in Birmingham only to be knocked unconscious. Lets follow suit and take action like Inner Mongolia who sent 2500 tons of potatoes to Wuhan. There are many examples of racism but also countless examples of hope – May Lee and her podcast, the Guardian Angels group, companies donating masks, all the bold frontline workers and more. Dont criticize unless youre willing to be a part of the solution. With my bball foundation in China, we’ve donated 1 million RMB to get medical equipment to Wuhan. I’ll also be donating an additional $150,000 towards fighting this virus. Let's all do our part to quarantine, wash our hands vigorously, wear a protective mask to avoid germs spreading and do our part to share facts and preventative measures. Stay together, fight on! Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good — Romans 12:9

A post shared by Jeremy Lin 林書豪 (@jlin7) on

In The Players’ Tribune article, Lin mentioned all the good he has seen on display during the nationwide panic, such as the courage of the healthcare workers and the compassion of volunteers to get meals to immunocompromised neighbors. But he also discussed the discrimination against Asians in America and around the world.

“Every Asian American I know knows someone who has been targeted during this time,” Lin said. “In fact, anti-Asian racism is rapidly increasing all over the world. It’s so crazy and sad.”

Lin said this unique time in history presents an opportunity for all people to rise above the in-fighting, the political posturing and the accusations. Now is the time for all people to come together.

“Truth is, we have it in us to be the light, because there are already millions choosing to be the light every day,” he wrote. “No one knows how devastating the impact of this crisis will be, but the projections aren’t good. We’re going to be recovering from this for a long time. But in the process, there will be so, so many opportunities to choose light.”

Lin, who has spoken about faith often since he rose to stardom, concluded with the Bible verse John 1:5: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

In a note at the end of the story, Lin said, “I will be donating $500,000 to Direct Relief and Feeding America and matching all donations up to an additional $500,000. I’ll also be highlighting organizations that are shining a light into the darkness as this time, as well as exploring more ways for us all to get more involved.”

Lin first rose to international stardom in 2012 with the New York Knicks in his second NBA season out of Harvard. He received consistent playing time over the course of a couple of months and dazzled in the spotlight as he led an incredible season turnaround for the Knicks. He captured the hearts of New Yorkers and millions around the globe in what became known as “Linsanity.”

Lin bounced around eight NBA teams during his nine-year career, but he was on the Toronto Raptors’ roster last June as the franchise captured its first NBA title.

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