NBA icon Jeremy Lin was announced as Harvard’s Class of 2021 virtual Class Day Speaker on Monday.
Before becoming a professional basketball player, Lin graduated from Harvard in 2010 with an economics degree. Since his time at Harvard, he was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, became the first Asian American of Chinese or Taiwanese descent to play in the NBA as well as the first Asian American to win an NBA championship with the Toronto Raptors.
Fun fact: I missed my Class Day in 2010 because I was working out with the LA Lakers. Very full circle and making up for lost time…it’s a huge honor to get to speak to the Class of 2021 #gocrimson https://t.co/0B4QEb0AGr
— Jeremy Lin (@JLin7) May 4, 2021
Lin stated that he is “deeply honored” to be invited as a speaker.
“This next generation of leaders is stepping into the world at such an unprecedented time, and they have so much potential to help shape a more just and kind society,” Lin said to The Harvard Gazette. “I’m excited to celebrate this moment with them and share whatever lessons I’ve learned since my time at Harvard.”
Jeremy Lin’s impact on the community went beyond his athletic skills. He launched the Jeremy Lin Foundation in 2013 to “love and serve children and youth” and to provide “hope, empowerment and leadership development.” In another philanthropic gesture, in 2016, he donated $1 million to fund Harvard’s financial aid program and basketball arena renovations, according to The Harvard Crimson.
Lin was also vocal about the attacks and racism the Asian community is facing. In February, Lin appeared in NBC Sports Bay Area’s “Race in America: A Candid Conversation,” and called for unity among minorities amid the rising anti-Asian violence. After the Atlanta spa shootings in March, he also wrote an op-ed for Time Magazine, addressing the violence and urged readers to listen in order to make the world a better place.
Students from the graduating class selected him as the speaker because they see him as a role model, “champion of representation for so many Asian Americans” and a figure that they can all learn a lesson from.
“Jeremy Lin has been an inspirational figure for so many of us, and the example of his work and the ways he lives his values shine more brightly now than ever,” said Samyra Miller, co-chair of the speaker selection committee. “His story — his persistence, passion, and his belief in himself when others might not — is a lesson we can all learn from.”
Lin’s address, as well as Harvard’s Class Day event, will be live-streamed online at 2 p.m. on May 26.