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"I think there is a significant number (of Asian American athletes) now, but there will be many more in the future," said Lee, who juggled his busy career as an ear surgeon to help others pursue their own Olympic dreams.Among them was Greg Louganis, whose legacy as an Olympic diver earned him a place alongside the most recognizable Asian American athletes even today.

"Who would have thought in my day that you could make so much money as an athlete?

Michelle Kwan made .3 million, and she's an Olympian, an amateur," Lee said.

That is, about the convergence of African-Americans and Caucasians on the field of play.

Toward the end of the 20th Century, the discussion broadened to include Latinos.

Already a veteran of World War II, Lee served another tour of duty in Korea in 1953, where he learned he had won the James E. Only 5-feet, 2-inches tall, Lee overcame discrimination to attain his goals.

A Korean American whose appetite for Olympic competition was first whet when he attended the 1932 Los Angeles Games, he practiced diving at the Los Angeles Swim Stadium and the Brookside pool, where only whites could use the pool every day but Wednesday.

Yet ask average sports fans to name an Asian American athlete and most would struggle to rattle off but a handful of familiar names.

Truth is, there aren't many Asian Americans playing sports today, whether it is on the youth level or in the professional arena.

But as we begin Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the nation's fastest growing population group continues to lag far behind as participants in sport.

According to Census 2000, there are 10.2 million Asian Americans in the United States, a number that is anticipated to grow significantly in the years ahead.

"When I made the Olympic team, I had to quit my job as a locker room boy. There is so much money out there now, you'll see more" Asian Americans playing sports in the years to come.