The May 12 earthquake, which ravaged China's Sichuan and Gansu provinces, killed 69,146 people, and 17,516 are still missing, the Chinese government said Tuesday. About 5 million people are homeless.
"As everyone knows about the recent tragedy in China, the earthquake tragedy was the worst in history," Yao said. "For this reason, I am working to give back funds."
Since rebuilding will take many years, Yao said he plans to make further donations and raise public awareness about the earthquake victims.
The Xinhua news agency reported that the government promised to carry out earthquake-resistance checks of all school buildings nationwide before Sept. 1, the beginning of the new school semester.
The NBA player appears in a public service announcement sponsored by the Red Cross and the NBA. In one PSA, which aired during Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference Finals, Yao asked for donations and aid for quake victims.
The Rockets will donate $100,000 to the foundation, said Rockets general manager Daryl Morey.
"I was shocked how deeply affected Yao Ming was by this," Morey said. "You could tell it was something that impacted him more than almost anything I've seen impact him. At that time, we asked what we could do and we organized his work with the NBA. We put together the PSAs and things like that."
The foundation is being organized by The Giving Back Fund, a philanthropic organization that provides mentoring and management to athletes, entertainers and other high profile individuals.