Born in Yixing, Jiangsu in China, Ding began playing snooker at 8 years old after his father, a pool enthusiast, took him along to practice with a professional at a local pool hall. When his father went for a toilet break, Ding took the cue and played with the professional. Upon his father's return, Ding had won the game. Following that moment, Ding's parents supported his playing skills. At age 9, his father took him to the training centre of the Chinese national snooker team near Shanghai, and persuaded his mother to sell their home and grocery business in order for Ding to continue playing snooker as a career. The family then moved to Dongguan, Guangdong, and Ding stopped his education at age 11 to practice snooker for 8 hours each day.
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