Ivy 60 for 60: Jeremy Lin

Before “Linsanity,” Jeremy Lin was a two-time All-Ivy selection at Harvard.

Ivy Hoops Online announces the next entry in Ivy 60 for 60, our series running through 60 of the greatest players in Ivy League men’s basketball history after a hiatus to continue celebrating six decades of modern Ivy League basketball. An Ivy 60 for 60 for Ivy women’s basketball will follow.

One of the few Ivy League basketball standouts known more for their professional basketball exploits, Jeremy Lin is also one of its most grateful.

Lin has given Ivy hoops fans a lot to be grateful for too.

The first American of Chinese or Taiwanese descent to ever play in the NBA, Lin took the NBA by storm as a New York Knick in 2012, but before “Linsanity,” there was the Jeremy Lin that established himself as one of the Ivy League’s most well-rounded players.

A two-time first-team All-Ivy selection, the Bay Area native averaged 12.9 points, 4.3 rebounds. 3.5 assists and two steals per game during his collegiate career, proving himself one of the league’s most versatile players. Tommy Amaker took over as coach of the Crimson during Lin’s second season, and Harvard went from a 12-16 (5-9 Ivy) record in Lin’s first year at Harvard to 21-8 (10-4) during his senior campaign. Amaker called Lin “the ultimate game changer for the Harvard basketball program” earlier this year.

Lin later reported hearing a greater share of slurs mocking him for being Asian-American while at Harvard than during his NBA career, letting racism affect him during a game for the last time against Cornell.

The son of Taiwanese immigrants, Lin made an enormous contribution to Asian visibility and representation during his rise to NBA stardom, effectively representing an entire race for NBA followers.

What’s most remarkable about Lin, though, is how he handled being “othered,” going 555 days without playing a full NBA game due to injury and dealing publicly with the “rock bottom” disappointment of running out of NBA options this past summer before signing with the Beijing Ducks of the Chinese Basketball Association.

He did it with gratitude.

Lin expressed gratitude to the NBA, his family and fans upon announcing his move to the CBA in August and expressed God-focused messages of gratitude both after suffering an injury and winning a NBA title. Lin is a Christian, but what people all faiths can take away from Lin is that he believes in something greater than himself and serves others, setting up a foundation to serve children and youth, supporting a global nonprofit, One Day’s Wages, that fights global poverty and even donating $1 million to Harvard in support of undergraduate financial aid and renovations to Lavietes Pavilion.

“Those four years there turned me into somebody different,” Lin said of his time at Harvard. “Tommy and the organization, they gave me a chance to develop into my own and really have a chance, and I was able to play in the NBA because of the growth I was able to make as a player and as a person, at that school on that team.”

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