By all accounts, Da Fang is learning to rein in her natural protectiveness. According to her close friends, the unbending matriarch now more readily accepts her son's decision to occasionally live on his own, to take unchaperoned trips with his first and only girlfriend, 6'3" Chinese national team player Ye Li, and to spend as he pleases his growing pile of cash. Da Fang and her husband have also busied themselves with projects of their own, including the opening of a sports caf�--Yao Restaurant & Bar--in a Houston strip mall. How fitting that a restaurant, that clich� of the Chinese immigrant community, should also be Da Fang's version of the American Dream.
Born to a poor laborer's family, the former Red Guard came of age in the Cultural Revolution and then, like the rest of China, gradually traded her Communist ideals for capitalist goals, all the while keeping one constant--her love for her only son. Yao Ming has come a long way, but it is Da Fang, surely, who has made the greatest leap of all.
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