Basketball star Jeremy Lin yesterday told the story of his climb out of misery while playing in the Development League to "Linsanity" in the National Basketball Association. But he said he only found emptiness at "the top of the world".
Lin, a Taiwanese-American born and raised in California, plays point guard for the Houston Rockets in the NBA and is visiting Hong Kong. The 24-year-old shared his testimony of faith with a crowd of 10,000 at a private church-organised event yesterday at the AsiaWorld-Expo.
"God's fingerprints are all over my life," he said, listing 13 things that had to occur in his life for his meteoric rise to happen. "Maybe if three to five things happened, it'd be a coincidence. But for all 13 to happen, that's what I call a miracle."
1. Lin's dad moved to the United States from Taiwan, and fell in love with the game of basketball.
2. He was born into an Asian-American family where basketball was a part of his life from birth - which is "very rare".
3. Nearly 2 metres in height, Lin is much taller and heavier than any other relative. His parents are both of unremarkable size.
4. When Lin broke his ankle in high school, he learned humility.
5. He was recruited by Harvard University to play on the basketball team after "God closed the door" on any athletic scholarships, including one at Stanford University that Lin was "begging" for.
6. He didn't get drafted into the NBA after graduating from university.
7. NBA team the Dallas Mavericks offered him a spot on the Summer League team.
8. His Achilles heel was injured but recovered on exactly the day that the league training began.
9. In the league, the Mavericks played against the Washington Wizards, which happened to have the number one pick in the draft.
A Mavericks player was injured and Lin filled in.
10. Fast forward to December 2011. The Houston Rockets picked him up after another team dropped him, but then found they were oversubscribed. After two days of trying in vain to trade other players to make room for Lin, they waived him - or gave him up - on Christmas Day.
11. The New York Knicks picked him up immediately to fill in for Iman Shumpert, who had just injured his knee. If the Rockets had waived him two days before, the Knicks could not have picked him up, as claims must be made in a 48-hour waiver window.
12. This was the time of the NBA lockout, when teams play three back-to-back games, and the last of the three was the game against the New Jersey Nets that sparked Linsanity. Lin was given a chance to play because his teammates were too tired from the non-stop games.
13. Top Knicks' players Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony were unavailable and Lin became the team's primary offensive option, which ended up giving him a "magical run".
When Lin first played for the Knicks, a security guard tried to stop him entering the arena, telling him the entrance was for "players only". All that changed, but the joy faded quickly.
"I had the best education, best job, more money than I could ever dream of. I had what the world said was the perfect life, but it wasn't enough."
He told the audience that the big guy in the sky who was with him in "the depths of the D-League" and "the heights of Linsanity" was the only one who could give him satisfaction - something that no amount of fame could.