Monday, 29 April 2013
NBA Jason Collins Comes Out As Gay
Jason Collins, who played with the NBA's Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards this season, has disclosed that he is gay. This makes him the first active openly gay male athlete in the four major American pro team sports. The center, who said he is now a free agent "literally and figuratively," made the disclosure in a column appearing in the upcoming issue of Sports Illustrated.
"Jason Collins has forever changed the face of sports," said the Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights group fighting for gay rights.
It likened the announcement to Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play in major league baseball in the modern era.
Collins is a 7-foot center who played with six NBA teams over the past 12 seasons. Along with the Wizards and Celtics, they are the Minnesota Timberwolves, New Jersey Nets, Atlanta Hawks and Memphis Grizzlies.
He has averaged 3.6 points and 3.8 rebounds in 713 career games and he has had a great deal of playoff experience with the Nets mostly and the Hawks.
NBA Commissioner David Stern said the 34-year-old veteran is widely respected in the league.
"We are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue," he said in a statement.
Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld said the team is "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."
Collins played his college ball at Stanford University. Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of former President Bill Clinton and a Stanford alumna, wrote on Twitter that she is "very proud of my friend Jason Collins for having the strength & courage to be the first openly gay player in the NBA."
Bill Clinton called the announcement an "important moment for professional sports and in the history of the LGBT community."