Every Tuesday night, Jeremy Lin ’10 and his closest friends gathered in his Harvard dorm room to study the Bible. Listening to the economics concentrator dissect pre-selected verses and discuss how they could teach the assembled students to live better, it might have been hard to believe that Lin would one day become the face of one of the NBA’s proudest franchises.
Two years later, after that dream has come true, it is still tough for members of that Bible study group to realize that the 6’3” Taiwanese-American student they knew is now the newest star of the New York Knicks.
Who could expect Lin’s close friends Kai-Cheng Ho ’10 and Benjamin Wu ’10 to believe the headlines—when, after his first NBA start against the Utah Jazz, Lin talked with them until the wee hours of the morning about Ho’s work and community issues in China?
Even as Lin has emerged in recent days as an international superstar, he has stayed true to the friends and faith that helped get him to where he finds himself today.
FAITH AT HARVARD
Lin forged strong bonds with Wu at Harvard over their shared interest in video games. According to Wu, their game of choice was Defense of the Ancients, a real-time strategy game that pits two players against each other in a battle to destroy the other’s base.
“He was extremely competitive,” Wu said. “Besides his faith, besides basketball, DotA dominated a large portion of his time. It’s pretty hilarious, because you would imagine that he wouldn’t be sucked into these things, but that was a large drag on our free time. I think that just speaks to the kind of person Jeremy is, never indulging in what mainstream society would think a star basketball player would be like.”
Wu said that the two became closer during their senior year when Lin led their Bible study group. Every Tuesday, a group of 8 to 10 students gathered to learn about the Bible and about each other.
Beyond committing his Tuesday evenings to Christian education, Lin went to church near the Quad every Sunday morning. On Saturday, he would text Wu and others, reminding them to go to bed early so they could get their rest before waking up for church. On Sunday morning, Lin and Ho rounded up the others to head over to church together.
“Jeremy’s one of those guys who just never strayed,” Wu said. “He helped me find my motivation and inspiration to get up every Sunday morning and go to church.”
TWO YEARS OF TURMOIL
After Harvard, Lin spent two tumultuous years trying to make it as a professional basketball player.
He went undrafted and then had the chance to prove himself to the Mavericks in summer league play. When that team did not sign him, Lin joined the Golden State Warriors. During that time, he shared an apartment with his former Harvard roommate Eric Lee ’10. Lee saw the fringe NBA player struggle firsthand.
“When times were tough, it just made him work that much harder,” Lee said. “It was a roller coaster ride. He was always plugging away, trying to outwork the next guy, trying to better himself.”
At its start, this season was only harder for Lin. He was waived by the Warriors on Dec. 11. Then after joining the Houston Rockets for a few days, he found himself without a team again by Dec. 24.