Jason Collins announcemented that he is gay was well supported by other athletes, politicians and celebrities.
He said it loud: He’s gay and he’s proud.
NBA journeyman Jason Collins has made history, becoming the first active athlete in a major American sport to publicly come out of the closet.
“I’m a 34-year-old NBA center,” Collins said in a Sports Illustrated story he wrote with veteran sports journalist Franz Lidz. “I’m black. And I’m gay.”
Collins wrote that he decided to go public with his sexuality because he was tired of living a dishonest life and worrying that somebody might identify him as a gay man.
“I’ve always been scared of saying the wrong thing,” Collins said in the story released on the magazine’s website Monday. “But each time I tell another person, I feel stronger and sleep a little more soundly.”
Collins was drafted 18th overall by the Houston Rockets in the 2001 NBA draft and later traded to the Nets — then playing their home games in New Jersey — where he spent seven seasons. He is an unrestricted free agent after playing with the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards this season.
Collins won’t be the NBA’s most coveted free agent when the NBA season concludes in June: At 34, he is closer to retirement than the best days of his career. But he is highly regarded in NBA circles.
“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.
Howard Bragman, the Los Angeles public relations guru who advised retired NBA player John Amaechi before he came out, said Collins’ announcement might even make him more attractive to teams in gay-friendly cities.
“If you are the general manager of the Golden State Warriors, you are thinking, ‘We can sell a lot of jerseys if we sign this guy,’ ” Bragman said.
Collins has a sponsorship deal with Nike, which quickly issued a statement in support. Warriors President Rick Welts — who came out in 2011 — predicted earlier this month that pro sports’ first openly gay player will be embraced by the shoe and sports apparel giant.
Collins’ decision to go public was applauded by several NBA players, including Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. President Obama called Collins to offer support and congratulations.
“I’m proud to call Jason Collins a friend,” tweeted former President Bill Clinton, whose daughter Chelsea attended Stanford with Collins.
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