Magazine article The New Yorker

Hoop Dreams

Magazine article The New Yorker

Hoop Dreams

Article excerpt

HOOP DREAMS

Eddie Huang was ten years old when, he says, he glimpsed his "hopes and dreams in a box." They were white with red trim and a silver tongue, and they sat in the display window of City Sports at the Belz Outlet Mall, in Orlando, Florida. The Jordan V sneakers cost a hundred dollars, but Eddie encouraged his parents, frugal Taiwanese immigrants who owned a steak restaurant, to consider them an investment in his future career in the N.B.A. His father expressed skepticism. "No shoe is going to make you jump higher when you're this fat," he said. Later, when Eddie revised his dream--he wanted to be a sportscaster--his father spotted an even more insurmountable hurdle: "They'll never let someone with a face like you on television."

Huang did not end up playing for the N.B.A., but he made it to television. His path was circuitous: he moved to New York and, after stints as a corporate lawyer and a marijuana dealer, opened Baohaus, a Taiwanese street-food joint in the East Village, which paired pork buns with hip-hop music. That led to his own online show, a food-themed travel program for Vice, called "Huang's World," and a book deal. Now Huang's memoir, a coming-of-age story titled "Fresh Off the Boat," has been adapted into a sitcom, which will premiere next month on ABC.

"My dad's first reaction was 'I'm so sorry I brought you to this country!' " Huang said the other day. "He was coming here as an adult and didn't really know what it was like for an ABC"--that is, an American-born Chinese. Huang was at the basketball courts at Chelsea Piers, warming up for a game of one-on-one with his younger brother Evan. Dressed in a black T-shirt, red Nike shorts, and magenta LeBron Xs, he dribbled a ball to the free-throw line, stopped, and did squats. "I'm thirty-two this year," he said, "and this is the first year I feel old."

Evan (six years younger, two inches taller) stood nearby, in matching LeBrons. He recently completed a degree in global studies at the New School, having taken four years off to help his brother open Baohaus. The brothers wore matching jade Buddhas on thick gold chains, a gift from their mother to each of her three sons. Eddie doesn't take his off: "Something shitty happened to me the one time I did." (He wrecked his Jeep Grand Cherokee. Then his condom broke.)

Growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood in Orlando (the family restaurant has since become a Hooters), the Huang boys didn't need to be told they were different. …

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