(Photo: Center Street)
Jeremy Lin went from an unknown bench player to national stardom after leading the New York Knicks on a seven game winning streak early this year. The astonishing circumstances leading to that event were built upon Lin's family and faith, according to a new biography by Timothy Dalrymple called Jeremy Lin: The Reason for the Linsanity.
"It's like the Bible," Dalrymple explained in a Monday interview with The Christian Post. "The Bible is not a story of extraordinarily talented people. The Bible is the story of an extraordinary God accomplishing extraordinary things through ordinary people. I think that's part of why Jeremy's story is so compelling. He is such an underdog, you can identify with him."
Dalrymple, managing editor for the evangelical portal at Patheos.com, first interviewed Lin for Patheos.com while finishing his doctorate at Harvard University. There was much excitement around the Harvard campus at the time over the team's new Asian-American basketball phenom. Dalrymple was impressed with Lin's humility, depth of faith, and how he brought his faith and spiritual life together. Dalrymple decided at that point to follow Lin's career.
"Jeremy is not only a talented basketball player, but a person of very sincere faith and a genuinely goodhearted guy. Having the opportunity to tell his story is one of the great privileges I've had so far as a writer," the author said.
Each chapter in the biography uses each of the seven games in the win streak as a lens to look back on the formative experiences in Lin's life.
Early in his high school career, Lin was a "fairly cocky kid" who did not place a high priority on practices or being a team player. In his junior year, he doomed his team's chances to win a state title after foolishly playing pick-up basketball and breaking his ankle. That event, which occurred just as his Christian faith was deepening, was a turning point.
"Jeremy began to appreciate that he may not have forever and he needs to take advantage of the opportunities God has given him," Dalrymple recounted.
The humility that Lin's faith has taught him is critical to his success as a basketball player, Dalrymple believes, because it takes humility to be a good teammate. It's especially important for a point guard, whose main purpose as the team leader is to put his teammates in position for success.
Dalrymple also found that Lin's ethnic and cultural heritage contributed to his success.
Taiwanese-Americans who immigrated to the United States in the 1960s and 70s, as Lin's parents did, tended to be the best and the brightest from their country and have strong work ethics, the author explained. Their children have a 75 percent college graduation rate, three times the national average.
Lin "got his passion for the game from his father, but he got his sense of absolute commitment and incredible work habits from his mother."
For the book, Dalrymple had a conversation with Amy Chua, author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.
Chua explained the cultural differences this way: "Western culture tends to glorify talent while eastern culture tends to glorify hard work."
When it comes to practice Lin is always the first to arrive and the last to leave.
"I don't think he would have been that way if not for the culture in which he was raised," Dalrymple said.
Because of his heritage, Dalrymple also sees an opportunity to share Christianity in communist China.
"Jeremy's ancestors came from China, to Taiwan, then to the United States. His parents then have a son who becomes a global sports superstar, who has a platform like nobody else in the world to speak the Gospel back into mainland China."
Dalrymple hopes that parents will consider the book for their children, because it is so rare to find an appropriate role model for kids among sports stars.
Lin's story is "the most inspiring story I've had the pleasure to tell," Dalrymple said.