Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Jason Collins: NBA Player Announces He's Gay

NBA player, Jason Collins has come out of the closet!!! Yay!!! I am so happy to see someone have the courage to truly be themselves and he is a the first openly gay male athlete in the history of American pro team sports. He disclosed his sexuality in a column appearing in the upcoming issue of Sports Illustrated.
Collins also has the full support of his Washington Wizards teammates and the team's President, Ernie Grunfield.
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," Grunfeld said.
Collins stands 7-foot and played center with six NBA teams over the past 12 seasons. Along with the Wizards and Celtics, he has also worn the Minnesota Timberwolves, New Jersey Nets, Atlanta Hawks and Memphis Grizzlies jerseys. He has averaged 3.6 points and 3.8 rebounds in 713 career games.
"Jason Collins has forever changed the face of sports," said the Human Rights Campaign.
"At a time when millions are reflecting on the life and legacy of Jackie Robinson, Jason Collins is a hero for our own times," added the group.

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.
Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers called Collins "a pro's pro" and one of his favorite players he ever coached.
"If you have learned anything from Jackie Robinson, it is that teammates are always the first to accept," Rivers said. "It will be society who has to learn tolerance."
Atlanta Hawks' Managing Partner/NBA Governor Bruce Levenson and Hawks' President of Basketball Operations/General Manager Danny Ferry said they respect Collins and his message and support players' individual rights.
"Jason represented everything that we look for as a member of the Atlanta Hawks and we are proud he wore our jersey," they said.
Collins played 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."
Collins, who had been traded by the Celtics to the Wizards this season, wrote in his essay that U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, helped prompt his decision to come out as gay. Kennedy and Collins were roommates at Stanford. He recounts hearing about Kennedy, who is not gay, marching in Boston's Gay Pride Parade.
"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," Kennedy said. "I'm proud to stand with him today and proud to call him a friend."
President Barack Obama, a big basketball fan, hadn't yet weighed in, but White House spokesman Jay Carney said, "I can certainly tell you that here at the White House we view that as another example of the progress that has been made and the evolution that has been taking place in this country and commend him for his courage and support him."
Active players posted their approval on Twitter. The Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant said: "Proud of @jasoncollins34. Don't suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others." Steve Nash, also a Laker, said: "The time has come. Maximum respect."
Two Wizards' players, Garrett Temple and Bradley Beal, said in tweets they were "proud" of Collins. "Much respect to my teammate," Temple said. "Great teammate, mentor and better person," said Beal.
Michael Strahan, the former New York Giants defensive end, praised Collins for "having the courage to stand up and out for who he is. I support, respect and salute you!!"
Collins' twin brother, Jarron, who also played in the NBA, were teammates at Stanford. Jarron tweeted about Jason: "Very proud of you."
A few athletes have come out as gay after they've left professional sports. One is John Amaechi, a former NBA player.
Amaechi told CNN he hopes Collins will be a catalyst for a wider acceptance of openly gay athletes, saying he believes Collins is better equipped than anyone who came before him to handle the attention that will come his way. But it may take more, Amaechi said.
People like to believe one iconic figure can change things, he said, "but the reality is that when there's this tipping point, or enough people coming together deciding that change is necessary, that's when change happens."
The Women's National Basketball Association has had its share of milestones and openness as far as gays are concerned. In 2005, Sheryl Swoopes -- a top player in the WNBA, the women's pro league -- announced she was gay.
Brittney Griner, the No. 1 pick in this year's WNBA draft, recently said in an interview with Sports Illustrated that she is gay.
We recently reported that NFL player Kerry Rhodes was outted by his former assistant- Hollywood or Hollyhood as I like to refer to him as. Though Rhodes denied the allegations many still believe what they heard through grapevine. I hope Collins' courage helps those who are struggling with the decision to come out of the closet.
It's not easy to come out of the closet, it is one of the most difficult things to do- it changes everything, and everyone. So hats off to Jason!!!

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