Jeremy Lin: The Hero Who Came Out of Nowhere

By Scott T. Allison and George R. Goethals

There are times when real-life hero stories are so unlikely, and so inspiring, that they have the appearance of a fairy tale.  The story of New York Knick basketball player Jeremy Lin is one such tale.

Lin played college basketball at Harvard, a school known far more for its academics than for its athletics.  Lin was a star player at Harvard, but when he graduated in 2010, there were no professional basketball teams in the NBA interested in him.  He was judged to be a marginally skilled player who lacked athleticism.

Eventually the Golden State Warriors decided to take a chance with Lin, but they gave him little playing time and eventually cut him from the team.  The Houston Rockets then did the same.  Lin’s basketball future looked bleak.

But Lin never abandoned his dream to play professionally.  He began this current basketball season languishing at the end of the New York Knicks’ bench, still waiting for his chance.  There appeared to be little hope that Lin would ever be able to prove himself on the basketball court.

At this point, the magical part of the fairy tale kicks in.  On February 5, 2012, with the Knicks struggling to win games, coach Mike D’Antoni took a chance and decided to bring Lin into a game against the New Jersey Nets.   Lin proceeded to dazzle everyone by scoring 25 points and handing out 7 assists, leading the Knicks to victory.  His performance stunned everybody.

Was it a fluke?  There was only one way to find out.  Coach D’Antoni allowed Lin to start the next game against the Utah Jazz.  This time Lin scored 28 points and dished out 8 assists, again leading the Knicks to victory.  Next came the Washington Wizards.  The Knicks won again with Lin scoring 23 points and getting a career-high 10 assists.  Against the Los Angeles Lakers, Lin poured in 38 points and had 7 assists.  He out-played the Lakers’ future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant, who muttered, “Players don’t come out of nowhere.”

In his first four games as a starter, Lin scored more points (109) than any player in NBA history.   That includes legends such as Michael Jordan and LeBron James.  “I have never seen this,” said Knicks coach D’Antoni. “What he’s doing is amazing.”  Lin is the first New York-based team athlete to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated two weeks in a row since the magazine started in 1954.  Lin’s stunning rise to stardom has captivated New York Kick fans, who erupt into a Beatlemania-like frenzy whenever Lin touches the ball.  The phenomenon has been called Linsanity.

As if Lin’s storybook rise to fame isn’t enough, he has also shown remarkable humility and generosity off the basketball court.  When interviewed, Lin comes across as genuinely gracious, modest, and grateful for the opportunities given him.  He always gives credit to his teammates first.  One day he wants to become a pastor devoted to helping others and establishing non-profit organizations to assist those less fortunate than him.  Lin also plans to work in inner-city communities to help underprivileged children.

Every once in a while, a hero appears out of nowhere to accomplish goals that no one could ever have anticipated.  The story has a powerful, almost archetypal quality to it.  It reminds us of fables and childhood tales that mesmerize us at a young age.  No one expects Cinderella to become a princess or the ugly duckling to grow into a majestic swan.  These stories inspire and move us because they are so very rare and have such a great emotional payoff.  And when they do occur, as with Jeremy Lin, our views about the promise and hope of humankind are rekindled.

Below is clip showing some highlights of Jeremy Lin leading the Knicks to victory over the Lakers.

19 thoughts on “Jeremy Lin: The Hero Who Came Out of Nowhere

  1. Wow Jeremy, you are such a talented young man. I bet we will hear a lot more big things about you, not only in basketball but in the economic world. Good luck with all!

  2. Reminds me of the video that came with Richard Marx’s ‘Take This Heart’ song wayyyyyy back in the early 90’s – where he played the baseball player who was the last hope batter for the always-losing team to make it….

  3. All we do is LIN LIN LIN no matter what!! So glad to see this rising hero on the blog. He is an inspiration to everyone, not just in basketball. Yes, Lin has talent but I think his story demonstrates much more than that. His is a story of perseverance and determination. Remaining humble in crucial moments, Lin is the ultimate underdog story and we all love an underdog story.

  4. Mabuhay Asiano hehe! I’m Jeremy`s #1 fan from the philippines, so very proud of you, always stay on top and keep your feet off the ground. You’re soooooooooooo cuuuuuuuuute, hope you could visit the philippines one day, hehe 🙂

  5. I really admire how humble Lin has remained, in spite of becoming such a superstar overnight. I think his attitude towards the spotlight has helped him gain even more status as a hero!

  6. It is truly amazing to me that despite being let go from two professional basketball teams, Lin was able to persevere and follow his dream of becoming a professional basketball player. Most players would most likely give up on playing professionally and become bitter and disenchanted. The fact that Lin was able to stay focused and keep working hard despite discouraging set backs show his strong character and fierce love of the game. He waited patiently for his chance to prove himself and is an inspiration to athletes everywhere.

  7. Wow! What a great underdog story. I enjoy how humble Lin has remained though reaching super-stardom basically overnight. Lin has great talent but I think the real story demonstrates much more: This is a story of perseverance and determination. Lin waited for his moment in time and finally proved to himself, his parents, other coaches, and athletes everywhere that anything is possible if you really want it.

  8. Lin’s story is a true inspiration. After having been cut twice, I sincerely respect his ability to never give up and take another shot at trying out. Who would have thought that he would end up making such a huge impact! What is even more heroic about Lin is his utter modesty. Hopefully he will continue to maintain his humble attitude as he continues to grow as a star and a role model.

  9. I am not a Knicks fan, but I do appreciate Lin as a player on that team. He is the exact opposite in attitude and priorities in the NBA, most playe are very cocky and self centered in many ways. I wonder what time will tell about Lin in the future.., Will he have the same moral compass or will he become like other NBA stars

  10. Lin’s humbleness is truly heroic, he soared into stardom as soon as he was given the chance but still recognizes his teammates before himself. This alone makes him a hero for me, people that jump into success so quickly let it get to their head, but Lin still remains modest. His struggle just to get the opportunity to play displays his drive, motivation, and courage. Lin has become a hero to many in the athletic world, even if you are not a Knick’s fan.

  11. Jeremy Lin certainly is a hero! I love underdog stories like this, when those who you least expect show great potential and triumph against adversity. Despite the setbacks in his life, and the fact that others judged him, claiming that he “lacked athleticism” Jeremy Lin remained positive and hopeful, and it certainly paid off. The fact that he continues to remain humble and genuine despite his rapid rise to fame also shows Lin’s heroism. Lin is an inspiration not only for athletes, but for everyone, as he shows us that hard work and determination really do pay off, and anything can be achieved if you really put your mind to it.

  12. Jeremy Lin has had quite a heroic journey thus far. However, as his fame is on the rise he will have to continue battling the sometimes evil and unforgiving media. There are so many stories of sports hero who eventually cave under the pressure of the media spotlight and are stripped of their title. It will be interesting to see how Lin’s heroic journey plays out.

  13. I truly think Jeremy Lin’s dedication to his passion is amazing. He is heroic for sticking with something that seemed to be doomed for failure. He was cut from two NBA teams and sitting on the bench with the Knicks, and I find it amazing that he only got his opportunity to shine because of other players’ injuries. I think he is truly heroic because he has remained humble throughout his instant path to fame and he constantly calls for attention to be paid to his teammates.

  14. I’m not sure I view Lin as a hero but I do truely respect him as a person. For him to remain so humble with all this media attention is definitely out of the norm. I believe many professional sports players could take a lesson from Lin’s attitude towards their respected games.

  15. I agree with Megan. I don’t view Lin as a hero but I respect him as an NBA player and the impact he had on the team. Now Carmelo is back the team is no longer focused on Jeremy Lin.

  16. I am not a huge sports fan and do not usually follow individual athletes, but for Jeremy Lin I will make an exception. He is doing truly remarkable things and people are rallying behind him so much because it is so unexpected. He is certainly an underdog hero. My only hope is that Lin doesn’t let the fame go to his head and keeps his strong character, because that is the sign of a true hero. So far, he seems to be doing just that!

  17. This is such as inspirational story and a classic story of hard work and perseverance paying off. Although he was a star at Harvard, this is a school known clearly more for its academics than its athletics. Even though he wasn’t getting recruited out of college he stuck with his dream and when he finally got his chance, he capitalized. Its all about being patient and waiting for your chance, and when you get it, you need to make the most of it. Jeremy Lin’s story gives hope to anyone out their pursuing dreams that may seem a little unrealistic.

  18. This is such as inspirational story and a classic story of hard work and perseverance paying off. Although he was a star at Harvard, this is a school known clearly more for its academics than its athletics.

  19. Jeremy Lin’s rise to sports hero and role model is Truwit remarkable. One of Lin’s strongest characteristics is that he is personable and many people see parts of themselves in him. For example, I used to play basketball before arriving at college. Lin’s hard work and dedication was inspiring for me and I used that as fuel to push myself harder in both practices and games. Another important of aspect of Lin, which was mentioned in the blog post, was that of his future plans. For Lin, the heroes journey is just beginning. His vision of future acts of pro social behavior is the ending of the heroes journey, one in which the hero bestowes a boon to society.

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