Jeremy Lin is doing more than entertaining North Carolina basketball fans, the Charlotte Hornets point guard has inspired over 2,600 students to stop bullying.
"Can't wait to visit one of the @CharMeckSchools," Lin tweeted last week. "Thanks to the 2600+ students taking a stand against bullying."
The 28-year-old NBA player started a reading challenge in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District through his nonprofit organization The Jeremy Lin Foundation. Instead of just reading books, students will have an opportunity to earn points by taking quizzes and reading articles written by Lin and other celebrities and writers about bullying.
The more students read, the more they have an opportunity to earn points for their schools, and the winning school will win a visit from Lin.
"The Jeremy Lin Foundation Reading Challenge ... encourages students to read from a collection of JLin Foundation aligned articles around 'Bringing an End to Bullying, featuring an article at five different levels from Jeremy Lin," a description of the challenge states on the Newsela website.
Newsela is an online community that helps students develop their reading and comprehension skills by reading non fiction articles. In an article Lin wrote for Newsela, the Hornets point guard reveals his own experiences with bullying.
"People who ask me about bullying are often surprised when I tell them that I have been singled out for my race on the basketball court," Lin wrote in the Newsela article titled, "Opinion: Ignore the bullies and dare to be different,"
The anti-bullying campaign officially launched on Jan. 19 and lasts for one month.
This is not the first time Lin has attached his name to a bullying campaign. When the White House launched an anti-bullying campaign called "Act To Change," Lin stepped forward.
"For me, growing up Asian-American and trying to play basketball was a bit tough at times," said Lin. "Sometimes people would make fun of me and just say, 'Oh, you're Yao Ming.'"
"That's not that bad, but sometimes it would get worse and people would say, 'You're a Chinese import' or 'go back to China' or 'can you see the scoreboard with your eyes?' And then sometimes it got really ridiculous."
Lin said people have addressed him using racial slurs, and the normally mild mannered basketball player became understandably upset. He even lashed out once.
"I remember one time I got really upset, kind of lost control and just responded really negatively. My coach told me after the game, 'Jeremy, when people say that to you they're trying to get in your head,'" Lin said. "Honestly, the best thing to do is take that negative energy and turn it into positive energy. Fuel yourself, motivate yourself with that. Don't react in anger."
"My lesson that I learned, and if there is anything I can pass on to you guys, is a lot of times bullies bully other people because of insecurities they have in themselves. Don't let anyone else tell you who you are or what you can or can't do," he advised. "Definitely look inside yourself, have confidence in yourself, believe in yourself and understand what makes you such a unique and special person. Everybody has different and really cool characteristics and talents."