NBA Houston Rockets Big Man Yao Ming has retired because of perennial foot injuries, reported Yahoo! Sports and USA Today.

Yao's retirement comes as a shock to many analysts and fans, both in the US and abroad, even though his struggles with his left foot are well known.

Yao retires with averages of 19 points per game, 9 rebounds per game, and 8 NBA All-Star game appearances. For a short time, he was the biggest big man in the NBA (before Dwight Howard matured), averaging well over 20 points per game a little over 10 rebounds per game.

When he teamed up with Tracy McGrady, a perennial all-star and former scoring champion, Houston and all of China were thinking NBA championship.

However, Yao and McGrady, himself injury prone, never made a substantial run in the post season. Injury arguably cut both of their careers short and the Yao-McGrady combo never reached its full potential.

Yao also failed to live up to his individual hype. His breakout performance came in a six game stretch of his rookie 2002-2003 season, when he shot 31-35 en route to an NBA record. That stretch of performance excited all of China, gave him a solid following in the US, and raised hopes that he'd be another great center in the tradition of Kareem Abdul Jabbar or Hakeem Olajuwon.

However, despite his two 20-10 seasons, he never became one of the great NBA big men.

Still, Yao Ming was an ambassador of the Chinese people to the US and earned the respect of virtually every single NBA player, coach, and commentator.

He worked hard, played hard, and was both a professional and a warrior throughout his career. He did the best he could with what he was given and that's all anyone can ask for.

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