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Yao Ming, China, Basketball

Yao Ming made his name as an NBA superstar playing for the Houston Rockets, but in Beijing he’ll play for his home country. He hopes to bring more than gold to China — he also wants to bring an attitude change about conservation. China is the world’s largest importer of illegal wildlife products, and Yao has used his celebrity to denounce animal poaching and call for an end to shark-fin soup, a traditional Chinese delicacy. “Endangered species are our friends,” he says.