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Yao Ming may have retired from basketball, but that won’t stop his charity work.

The Chinese basketball star – who created the Yao Ming Foundation to build schools in China after the May 2008 earthquakes – officially announced his retirement from the game this week.

“I will keep devoting myself to social charity work,” said Ming at a press conference in Shanghai. “Yao Foundation, launched three years ago, is a project named after me. I promise here that it will keep going on.”

Ming is well known for his part in building schools across China, as well as his work in raising awareness of shark conservation. He was recently honored by WildAid for speaking out against the horrors of shark fin soup, which sees 70 million sharks de-finned and left to die every year.

“With a well-functioned Yao Foundation, I’ll try to promote charity work not only in my circle of friends but also for the whole society, to help more people,” he said. “I’m very thankful for what life has taught me…To live a better life is the best way to say thanks, I think.”

Ming has also supported charity initiatives such as the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program, and hosted a telethon to help stop the spread of SARS in 2003. In 2007, he hosted a charity gala and basketball game with Steve Nash to raise money for charities in Beijing.

Following the Sichuan earthquake in 2008, he donated $2 million to relief work.

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