Canadian superstar Simu Liu and NBA champion Jeremy Lin teamed up with the Canadian Chinese Youth Athletic Association to host a celebrity basketball game Saturday at the University of Toronto's Goldring Centre.
The event featured more than 20 celebrities, athletes and personalities from the North American Asian community. Its goal was to raise money for the Jeremy Lin Foundation and the CCYAA's new community centre.
Liu is likely best known for his role as Shang-Chi in the 2021 Marvel film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and as Jung Kim on CBC's Kim's Convenience. Lin is a former NBA player and the first Asian-American to win the NBA championship, which he did with the Toronto Raptors in 2019.
The two have joined forces at the event to promote athletics and art for the Asian youth in Toronto.
"We're all united under this shared goal of celebrating our successes across all media and playing this game in support of philanthropy and charity," Liu said while speaking to media.
"A lot of communities haven't been properly represented in the media, and I think we can't understate how much the media affects our perceptions."
Carli Yim, a member of the CCYAA's executive board, said the organization's goal is to promote sport and a healthy lifestyle among Asian youth. It seeks to balance the importance of being healthy and staying active with other goals like academics and well-being.
Some of the money raised will go toward CCYAA's community centre for an inclusive space for Asian youth where they can participate in sports and the arts without barriers.
"We aim to provide accessible programming. That's what some of the funds will go toward," she said.
'Resilience, perseverance, confidence'
Speaking to the media, Lin reflected on the life lessons he's learned through basketball and how he hopes to see youth learn those lessons and break barriers.
"It taught me communication, leadership, teamwork, resilience, perseverance, confidence," he said. "
Lin added that he grew up in a world where being an Asian actor or athlete was "outside the realm of possibility." He hopes that future Asian athletes will have a chance to be themselves in their fields and not be compared to the handful of predecessors before them — like himself or NBA Hall of Famer Yao Ming.
"Eventually you won't be the token Asian, and that's a big part of creating opportunities for the next generation," Lin said.
The Jeremy Lin Foundation, established in 2011, has done various work including donating to COVID-19 relief efforts and helping raise greater awareness of increasing anti-Asian racism during the pandemic.
Its mission is to support cross-racial youth through programs for community empowerment and narrative change.