The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Pro Sports

April 29, 2013

NBA veteran Jason Collins comes out as gay

NEW YORK —  NBA veteran Jason Collins became the first active male player in the four major American professional sports to come out as gay.

The 34-year-old center, who has played for six teams in 12 seasons, wrote a first-person account that was posted on Sports Illustrated's website Monday. Collins finished the season with the Washington Wizards and is now a free agent. He says he wants to keep playing.

"If I had my way, someone else would have already done this," he writes. "Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand."

Collins played in a Final Four for Stanford and reached two NBA Finals. His twin brother, Jarron, was also a longtime NBA center. Collins says he told his brother he was gay last summer.

"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.

White House spokesman Jay Carney called the decision courageous and former President Bill Clinton said it was "an important moment for professional sports and in the history of the LGBT community."

"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," Clinton added.

Daughter Chelsea, who knew the player from Stanford, tweeted: "Very proud of my friend Jason Collins for having the strength & courage to be the first openly gay player in the NBA."

Collins was also college roommates with another member of an American political dynasty: Rep. Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass. In his account, Collins wrote that he realized he needed to go public when the congressman walked in Boston's gay pride parade last year — and Collins couldn't join him.

Kennedy tweeted Monday that "I've always been proud to call (Collins) a friend, and I'm even prouder to stand with him today."

Mostly a backup in his career, Collins has averaged 3.6 points and 3.8 rebounds for the Nets, Grizzlies, Timberwolves, Hawks, Celtics and Wizards. He was traded from Boston to Washington in February. Collins was the 18th pick in the first round of the 2001 NBA draft.

Several NBA players voiced support, including Kobe Bryant, who tweeted that he was proud of Collins.

"Don't suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others," his post said, followed by the words "courage" and "support."

Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld weighed in saying: "We are extremely proud of Jason and support his decision to live his life proudly and openly. He has been a leader on and off the court and an outstanding teammate throughout his NBA career. Those qualities will continue to serve him both as a player and as a positive role model for others of all sexual orientation."

Several male athletes have previously come out after they retired, including the NBA's John Amaechi, the NFL's Esera Tuaolo and Major League Baseball's Billy Bean. But Collins is the first to do so while planning to keep playing.

Collins wrote that he quietly made a statement for gay rights even while keeping his sexual orientation a secret. He wore the No. 98 with the Celtics and Wizards — that was the year Matthew Shepard, a gay college student in Wyoming, was killed, and the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention organization, was founded.

" 'Courage' and 'inspiration' are words that get thrown around a lot in sports, but Jason Collins has given both ideas a brand new context," said Aaron McQuade, who heads the sports program for the advocacy group GLAAD, "We hope that his future team will welcome him, and that fans of the NBA and sports in general will applaud him. We know that the NBA will proudly support him, and that countless young LGBT Athletes now have a new hero."

In February, former U.S. soccer national team player Robbie Rogers said he was gay — and retired at the same time. Rogers is just 25, and others have urged him to resume his career.

"I feel a movement coming," he tweeted after the Collins news broke.

Female athletes have found more acceptance in coming out; Brittney Griner, one of the best women's basketball players, caused little ripple when she acknowledged earlier this month she was a lesbian. Tennis great Martina Navratilova tweeted Monday that Collins is "a brave man."

"1981 was the year for me- 2013 is the year for you," her post added.

 

1
Text Only
Pro Sports
  • SPT - HB0819 - McAfee art George Bremer: McAfee can't wait for another shot at miracle finish Two days later, Pat McAfee still was kicking himself for missing a 64-yard field goal that would have provided an even more improbable finish to Saturday's 27-26 preseason loss against the New York Giants.

    August 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0818 - Griff Whalen art Rogers, Whalen heating up WR conversation Da'Rick Rogers and Griff Whalen are competing so hard for the fifth WR spot, the Colts might be convinced to keep six.

    August 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • WEB Colts art 8-17 Giants rally past Colts in preseason home opener Pat McAfee truly believes he should have made a game-winning field goal for the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night. Never mind that the punter's attempt came from 64 yards out — a distance that would have equaled the NFL record set by Matt Prater last year. McAfee was focused only on the 27-26 loss against the New York Giants and how his right foot could have changed it.

    August 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0816 - Colts art Colts still in evaluation mode against Giants

    Many eyes will be turned toward Jonotthan Harrison tonight when the Indianapolis Colts host the New York Giants in their second preseason game. The undrafted free agent out of the University of Florida figures to be the starting center following Khaled Holmes' sprained ankle in the opener against the New York Jets.

    August 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0814 - Colts Camp - 130 Colts end eventful camp on light note

    Chuck Pagano threw his team a little curveball Wednesday to close out the 2014 training camp, providing a light-hearted finish to a three-week stretch at Anderson University that often tested the team's mettle.

    August 13, 2014 2 Photos

  • Contract's up, but AU confident Colts will return AU president James Edwards believes the school soon will begin working on a new deal with the Colts.

    August 13, 2014

  • SPT - HB0813 - Colts Camp - Luck Watch - 058.JPG Colts Quick Hits: Aug. 13

    News and notes from Colts training camp at Anderson University

    August 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0813 - Colts Camp - Kerr - 032 Colts rookie Kerr not satisfied, not yet As an undrafted free agent rookie out of Delaware, Colts nose tackle Zach Kerr came into training camp knowing he had to prove himself worthy of a spot on the Indianapolis roster.

    August 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0813 - Colts Camp - Wayne - 126 Wayne making most of every moment in comeback

    Reggie Wayne had a surprise visitor during his media session Tuesday at Anderson University. And Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano just couldn't resist asking his wide receiver a few questions.

    August 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT-HB0813-ColtsCamp-Bradshaw-068.jpg Bradshaw ready to test neck

    Ahmad Bradshaw isn't certain whether he'll make his preseason debut Saturday against his former team, the New York Giants. But the veteran running back firmly believes he will be ready to roll when the regular season opens Sept. 7 at the defending AFC champion Denver Broncos.

    August 12, 2014 1 Photo