24-hour match: 2x your gift’s impact today! Double my donation

How many other Jeremy Lins are out there?

Kristina Wong Mar 2, 2012

Kai Ryssdal: This broadcast has been remarkably and mercifully Lin-sanity free the past three weeks or so — the novelty of Jeremy Lin’s unexpected rise to basketball stardom having long since worn off.

But for commentator Kristina Wong, his appeal continues to grow for reasons that have very little to do with Lin’s jump shot.

Kristina Wong: Yep, almost a month later, I’m still LINsane. Time I should be spending stalking my ex on Facebook is now spent scarfing down every link I can find on Jeremy Lin.

But the LINformation I’m most hungry for isn’t his points per game. It’s the details of Lin’s life before the NBA. Like Lin, I’m in an atypical field for an Asian-American. I’m a performance artist. If you don’t know what a performance artist is, that’s OK. Neither did my conservative, third-generation Chinese American family.

With slim income opportunities and exhausting workloads, I constantly wonder when I should quit. So I can’t imagine it was easy for Jeremy Lin pursue his dreams when there weren’t many Asian-American basketball stars as role models. Turns out what kept him believing in himself was the support of his family, his coaches and his church.

And that got me wondering. How many other “Jeremy Lins” are out there? Not just Harvard-educated NBA players who break records for most points scored in the first four starts, but people with the potential to excel at the unexpected who don’t have his support system, people who are held back by stereotypes of what their race, background, or gender should and should not be able to achieve. Not just in sports, but in school, the workplace, the arts, anywhere.

I think there are probably Jeremy Lins everywhere. Dry cleaners who want to write the next American novel. Gay kids who dream of being president. Immigrants who want to be the first in their family to go to college.

The big LINspiration I hope we take from the Jeremy Lin story has nothing to do with basketball. It’s that we open our eyes to the greatness that’s lurking unnoticed in all of us. That and hoping that everyone who stands in our way gets a groin injury.

Ryssdal: Kristina Wong is a writer and performer in Los Angeles. Got a comment — write to us.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.

Don’t miss this match!

Donate today and your gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the American Public Media Board.