Jeremy Lin: Why the New York Knicks Star Is a True American Idol

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Jeremy Lin: Why the New York Knicks Star Is a True American Idol
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Jeremy Lin's presence is in high demand.

Not only do the New York Knicks want to see him back in action as soon as possible, but so does Stuyvesant High School, a high-profile high school in New York City, as a speaker at graduation.

As reported in the New York Daily News, "Senior class president Eric Han decided to recruit Lin for commencement speaker after a poll of more than 800 seniors showed the NBA’s first American-born player of Chinese descent was the students’ top choice."

The student body created a video on YouTube that featured Han and other students and staff members making personal pleas directly to Lin.

Stuyvesant High School's population is predominantly of Asian-American descent; Lin's rise to prominence underscores the changes to the US population that have taken place over the last 10 years.

Since the last Census, the Asian population has grown 43%, greater than any other population in the U.S.

Add to that the fact that "New York (1.1 million) had the largest Asian population among cities -- more than double that of runner-up Los Angeles (484,000)," and this may be the first of many such requests for Lin's presence in non-basketball related arenas.

Some prominent athletes had previously dismissed the attention given to Lin as a purely racially motivated movement and, while they were wrong, no one can deny how much Lin's success means to the growing Asian-American community.

His accomplishments on the basketball court have broken racial stereotypes associated with Asians and have provided inspiration to a generation of young adults to challenge preconceived notions.

Lin's inspiration extends beyond the Asian-American community.

Said Stuyvesant senior Nader Daoud during their video, "“Hey, Jeremy, just as you’re breaking sports racial barriers, you’ve inspired me to break academic racial barriers as part Latino.”

Athletes often find themselves in the position of role models for throngs of fans.  Many, as Charles Barkley famously did during an advertisement, shun the role.

Jeremy Lin, due to his meteoric rise, the timing of his success during a boom in the Asian population, and his placement in the largest Asian market in the United States, finds himself in a position that far outstrips the influence of the average athlete.

Of course, his impact will be directly tied to his exploits on the court.  Should his game continue to improve, especially if he can stay in New York, his sphere of influence will continue to grow.

Lin's personality only helps him, as he has proven to be easy to like and root for.

He has already shown the ability to forgive.

He has also shown an ability (albeit a work-in-progress) to lead a basketball team.

Now, Jeremy Lin has a chance to be a leader off of the court as well.  Here is to hoping that Lin is willing and able to shoulder the responsibility.

In a country that prides itself on the fruits of individual effort, where dreams are often far bigger than reality, sometimes the most important dreams are the ones we all have of doing things that other people do not think we are capable of.

For Lin, it was being an effective player in the NBA.

For us, Lin is an inspiration and an icon that shows us that anything is possible.

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