Jeremy Lin Becomes UNICEF USA Ambassador

In his new role as a UNICEF USA Ambassador, basketball star Jeremy Lin hopes to help children have a brighter future. 

Jeremy Lin has made a name for himself as a professional basketball player. A two-time, All-Ivy League player at Harvard University, he rose to sudden stardom with the New York Knicks during the 2011-’12 season. His electric play earned a nickname among fans: “Linsanity.” Now Lin wants to use his platform to promote children’s rights and mental health in youth sports. 

In October, Lin was named a UNICEF USA Ambassador. UNICEF is an organization within the United Nations that works in countries around the world to protect and advocate for children. UNICEF USA selected the basketball star because he was a fierce advocate for protecting the mental health and well-being of children.

In a recent interview, Lin told me that he has noticed the pandemic has been especially difficult for kids. He wants to use his time as an Ambassador to bring “sports and mental health to the forefront.”


Lin addresses young athletes on the basketball court. 


Growing up in California, Lin experienced discrimination on the basketball court. People would call him names like “Asian.” The name-calling, Lin said, “affected me in ways I wasn’t aware of when I was your age.” 

Lin said that he’ll use his voice at UNICEF to make sure the next generation “has more opportunities to talk about mental health.” He thinks that youth sports should focus on kids enjoying the experience of playing rather than winning. 

“I was always so focused on the next goal, the next thing I wanted to accomplish,” Lin said, “that I never really took time to enjoy the moment.” 


As a UNICEF USA Ambassador, Lin wants to bring “mental health to the forefront.”


Lin also wants kids who play youth sports to feel safe to talk about difficult things they go through. He said that it’s important for all kids to have access to mental health resources. 

The basketball player hopes that kids will have the courage to stop bullying in youth sports. “When you see bullying happening,” he advised, “you should be the first person to say, ‘Hey, I don’t think you should say that.’”

Lin wants kids to know that participating in sports can lead to amazing memories. Some of his favorite memories as a pro-basketball player include performing well in clutch situations. “The crowd goes crazy and cheers,” he said, “and your team gets to celebrate together.” 

Of course, winning an NBA (National Basketball Association) Championship with the Toronto Raptors in 2019 was fun too, Lin said. He currently plays for the Beijing Ducks of the Chinese Basketball Association. 


Photos courtesy of UNICEF USA