Yao Ming Voices Role In Chinese Animated Film

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BEIJING (AP) - Having appeared in a documentary and played himself on the Simpsons, Houston Rockets star Yao Ming finally gets to voice a whole different character for an upcoming Chinese-language animated film.

Yao plays the father of the main character in "The Magic Aster," a traditional tale of good versus evil that promises to be more earnest than the famously irreverent Simpsons.

Taiwanese model-actress Lin Chi-ling and Hong Kong singer-actor Leon Lai also feature in the entirely Chinese production, which premiers June 19, the official China Daily newspaper reported.

"A lot of animation produced in China is very good and I hope children can enjoy this one and pass on traditional Chinese culture as well," Yao was quoted as saying.

The Houston center returned to his homeland after pulling out of the NBA playoffs with a broken left foot. Along with the voice-over work, the 28-year-old has been taking part in events for charities he supports, including his own Yao Ming Foundation established after last year's devastating earthquake in Sichuan.

Yao starred as himself in the 2004 documentary "The Year of the Yao," then provided voice-over on the 2004 Simpsons episode "Homer and Ned's Hail Mary Pass," in which he hires Homer to choreograph his victory dance.