New York, NY
NBA center Jason Collins has told a major sports publication he is gay. In doing so, Collins becomes the first openly gay active player in a major professional sport.
"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," Collins wrote in Sports Illustrated. "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."
NBA officlals indicated they are standing by Collins, who has played over 700 games with several teams including the New Jersey Nets, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks, Celtics and Wizards.
"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. 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," NBA commissioner David Stern said in a statement.
A major political figure was quick to add his thoughts, as well.
"Jason's announcement today is an important moment for professional sports and in the history of the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] community," former President Bill Clinton said in a statement. "It is also the straightforward statement of a good man who wants no more than what so many of us seek: to be able to be who we are; to do our work; to build families and to contribute to our communities.
"For so many members of the LGBT community, these simple goals remain elusive. I hope that everyone, particularly Jason's colleagues in the NBA, the media and his many fans extend to him their support and the respect he has earned."
Collins' twin brother Jarron, who last played in the NBA in 2010-11, was said to be surprised with the news.
Sports Illustrated's Chris Stone and Jon Wertheim discuss NBA veteran Jason Collins' decision to come out as gay
Jason Collins comes out as gay athlete
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