In Jerry Yang’s life story, opening a sushi restaurant in Merced may be a footnote.
Consider this: His family was caught trying to escape war-torn Laos. Communist soldiers were a trigger-pull away from executing him. The family did escape and spent four-and-a-half years in a Thailand refugee camp before immigrating to the United States.
Here, he lived in housing projects, wore second-hand clothes, learned English at 12 and graduated from high school and college at the top of his class. He worked as a psychologist before winning the World Series of Poker and becoming a multi-millionaire.
He gave some of the money to local charities and churches. Even after taxes, Yang confirms he could retire on his winnings and the interest earned. But he wanted to reinforce a strong work ethic in his children. Yang, 41, spends most days at Pocket 8’s Sushi and Grill greeting customers, cleaning tables and overseeing the restaurant in the London shopping center at Alexander Avenue and G Street.
“I want to set a good example for my children,” Yang said recently. “You have to work for what you have.”
Yang hopes to inspire others in a forthcoming autobiography called “All In: The Jerry Yang Story.” He tapped a ghostwriter to help him tell his tale. The draft was finished last week. He expects it to be published in early 2010.