Two days before his 26th birthday, NBA point guard and Palo Alto's own Jeremy Lin received perhaps one of his most memorable gifts ever: a life-size wax figure of himself, which was unveiled Thursday at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum near Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco.
Lin, joined by his mother and other relatives in town for a family reunion, admired the 6 foot, 3 inch tall statue of Lin frozen in mid-air, dunking an invisible basketball into a net, sporting a purple and yellow Los Angeles Lakers jersey. Lin was traded to the Lakers by the Houston Rockets in July.
"I think it's awesome; it's a little too real," Lin joked. "There's a ton of detail."
Lin's statue has been placed in the museum's sports-themed room, sharing the spotlight with the likes of Tiger Woods, Joe Montana, Muhammad Ali and Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas. Adrea Gibbs, general manager of Madame Tussauds, said the museum specifically sought out the Asian-American basketball star for his close ties to the Bay Area. Lin led the Palo Alto High School Vikings to the 2006 CIF Division II state championship before heading to Harvard University in 2006.
"We try to find some iconic figures that tie right back to the location, so in the case of San Francisco having somebody like Jeremy Lin ... who has such a tremendous following and so many people are aware of Linsanity, it seems like a perfect fit for us," she said.
Lin said he used to visit the museum when he was younger and is happy the statue is "so close to home."
"I've been here a few times, and so to be able to have it here ... it's very cool," he said.
Lin's statue is the 61st addition to the museum's permanent collection of celebrities, musicians and sports figures. But the San Francisco location isn't the only home to Lin's wax likeness -- the museum's Beijing location has one too.
The statue was crafted by about 20 artists and took about three to four months to complete, using more than 200 measurements taken of his body and face.
In order for artists to create the figure's dynamic pose, Lin had to stand for an hour on a rotating turntable in mid-dunk as the shape and every angle of his body was captured by cameras. Modelers also took his fingerprints, molds of his teeth and individually placed real human hairs one by one on the figure, which is made of beeswax and a "top secret" mix, Gibbs said.
When asked how his local fans might react to the statue's purple and gold uniform, Lin joked: "I'm not sure how the Lakers jersey will go in the Bay Area. Hopefully, it will be alright."
Lin said being able to share the statue's unveiling with his family is one of his highlights of the summer. Soon, he'll be heading down to Los Angeles to look for housing and to begin training with his new team.
"I'm definitely excited to be in L.A.," he said. "It's a fresh start and a breath of fresh air to start somewhere new ... to be a part of a new team. I enjoyed my time in Houston, but I'm definitely all focused in on this year."
Watch this First Person interview with Lin from 2012.