Former Timberwolf Jason Collins comes out as first gay pro athlete, thanks Chris Kluwe
Collins: "Being gay is not a choice... The most you can do is stand up for what you believe in. I'm much happier since coming out to my friends and family."
Today, NBA player Jason Collins became the first major male professional athlete to come out of the closet.
SEE ALSO: Torii Hunter: It would be "difficult and uncomfortable" to play with gay teammate
In a Sports Illustrated cover feature, Collins, a 14-year veteran who spent the 2008-09 season with the Timberwolves, writes: "I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay."
Here's an excerpt from Collins's SI piece (co-written by Franz Lidz):
As I write this, I haven't come out to anyone in the NBA. I'm not privy to what other players say about me. Maybe Mike Miller, my old teammate in Memphis, will recall the time I dropped by his house in Florida and say, "I enjoyed being his teammate, and I sold him a dog." I hope players swap stories like that. Maybe they'll talk about my character and what kind of person I am.
As far as the reaction of fans, I don't mind if they heckle me. I've been booed before. There have been times when I've wanted to boo myself. But a lot of ill feelings can be cured by winning.
I'm a veteran, and I've earned the right to be heard. I'll lead by example and show that gay players are no different from straight ones. I'm not the loudest person in the room, but I'll speak up when something isn't right. And try to make everyone laugh.
I've never sought the spotlight. Though I'm coming out to the world, I intend to guard my privacy. I'm making this blanket statement in part to keep rumors and misunderstandings at bay. I hope fans will respect me for raising my hand. And I hope teammates will remember that I've never been an in-your-face kind of guy. All you need to know is that I'm single. I see no need to delve into specifics.
In a companion SI article , Collins, who said he used to date women before gradually coming to terms with his sexuality in recent years, thanks Chris Kluwe and Brendon Ayanbadejo for all they've done to help encourage gay athletes to be true to themselves .
Referring to the pair, Collins said, "The words 'thank you' aren't enough."
Collins, a journeyman NBA center who has played for six different teams, played 31 nondescript games for the Timberwolves. But now, his career will be remembered for reasons that go beyond anything that's happened on the court during his 713 NBA games.
-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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