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NBA veteran Jason Collins: 'I'm gay'

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff  April 29, 2013 11:11 AM

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collinsgay.jpgJason Collins (right) played for the Celtics and Wizards this season.

Jason Collins, a 12-year NBA veteran who played in 32 games for the Celtics this season, came out as gay to Sports Illustrated. He is the first active male athlete in one of the big four American professional sports (basketball, baseball, football, and hockey) to do so.

collins_SI.jpg
"I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay," said Collins. "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 has played for six NBA teams in his career. The Celtics traded him to the Washington Wizards earlier this season in exchange for guard Jordan Crawford. Collins averaged 1.2 points and 1.6 rebounds for the Celtics, starting in seven games.

Collins cited the recent NBA lockout, the Boston Marathon bombings and Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy, his old college roommate, as some of the reasons he decided to make the announcement now:

I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston's 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I'm seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy. I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn't even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator. If I'd been questioned, I would have concocted half truths. What a shame to have to lie at a celebration of pride. I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. I want to take a stand and say, "Me, too."

Congressman Kennedy today released the following statement in support of Collins:

“For as long as I've known Jason Collins he has been defined by three things: his passion for the sport he loves, his unwavering integrity, and the biggest heart you will ever find. Without question or hesitation, he gives everything he's got to those of us lucky enough to be in his life. I'm proud to stand with him today and proud to call him a friend.”

NBA commissioner David Stern also commented, via Twitter.

“As [NBA deputy commissioner] 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," he said.

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