Miramax Books has acquired worldwide rights, except Asia, to a memoir by pro hoopster Yao Ming, the 7-foot-5-inch center of the Houston Rockets.
“It’s a coming-to-America story about how a talented young man from another culture becomes one of the most recognizable figures in the world in the space of a year,” said Jonathan Liebman of Brillstein-Grey Entertainment, which brokered the deal with Miramax. Yao is also repped by BDA Sports/Team Yao.
Tome will delve into the political and economic forces that helped bring Yao to the U.S. Miramax is aiming for a fall 2004 publication date.
Terms were not disclosed, but a source close to the situation said it was a seven-figure deal.
Co-writing the book is ESPN the Magazine senior writer Ric Bucher. This summer scribe will travel to China, where Yao is playing with the national basketball team, to work on the book.
Bucher has covered Yao frequently for the mag, which gave Yao its Next Athlete up-and-comer honor back in 2000, well before his National Basketball Assn. start last fall. In the face of early skeptics, Bucher defended Yao as “the answer to everything critics find wrong with the league today.”
Book was shopped widely, but Liebman said Miramax won out, in part, because he was looking for a general-interest publisher that would not pigeonhole Yao’s tale as a sports book.
“I have enormous respect for Miramax Books and what they achieved, and I think they are uniquely positioned to be able to find a wide audience for this kind of book,” he said.
Having completed his first season in the NBA, Yao has already landed major endorsement deals with Visa, Apple and Pepsi.