Yao, wife welcome daughter
The 7-foot-6 Yao and his wife, Ye Li, had a baby girl on Friday at a Houston hospital, team spokesman Nelson Luis said. The couple, who married in August 2007, did not announce the baby's name. She weighed 7 pounds, 9 ounces.
"I am very excited about the arrival of our daughter," Yao said in a statement. "This is a very special moment in our lives and we thank everyone for their kindness and support."
Chinese basketball fans were eager to learn if Yao would have the baby in America or China. Yao said in March that the birth was a "private" matter. The baby will be an American citizen since she was born in the U.S.
There was no immediate comment from the Chinese Basketball Association, where Yao started his career.
Yao's baby could claim Chinese citizenship as the child of Chinese nationals. However, Chinese law does not recognize dual citizenship.
A number of Chinese celebrities have been criticized for becoming naturalized citizens of other countries. Chinese are subject to stringent visa requirements, and some of the celebrities argued it was easier to travel internationally with passports from countries such as Singapore or the U.S.
Baby Yao has captured the imagination of fans in China, and most say they don't care which country claims the baby. They wonder about her potential basketball skills with a 7-6 father and 6-2 mother, who was a center for China.
Yao, who had extensive foot and ankle surgery last summer, is back to running on a treadmill and expects to resume full basketball activity by the end of the month.
Information from ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher and The Associated Press was used in this report.