NBA veteran center Jason Collins has come out of the closet, announcing his homosexuality in an in-depth column for Sports Illustrated. According to ESPN, he has become the first active player in a major American team sport to say that he is gay.
"I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay," he began the piece. "I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, "I'm different." If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand."
Collins, who has been in the league for 12 years and a part of six teams, was met with open support from the NBA including commissioner David Stern.
"As Adam Silver and I said to Jason, we have known the Collins family since Jason and Jarron joined the NBA in 2001 and they have been exemplary members of the NBA family," he said in a statement. "Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue."
The now free agent, who ended last season with the Washington Wizards after being traded by the Boston Celtics, describes how he had dated women and even got engaged to thwart his personal preferences, only to take a cue from former Standford roommate and Massachusetts congressman Joe Kennedy who marched in Boston's 2012 Gay Pride Parade. The recent Boston marathon bombings also encouraged him to come out, noting "that I shouldn't wait for the circumstances of my coming out to be perfect. Things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully?"
While he claims he is single, he didn't delve into specifics. Despite his aggressive stance on the hardwood throughout nine playoffs, Collins says that he goes "against the gay stereotype" and that his sexual orientation plays no role in his talents on the court.
"Pro basketball is a family. And pretty much every family I know has a brother, sister or cousin who's gay. In the brotherhood of the NBA, I just happen to be the one who's out."
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