Jason Collins, an 11-year NBA veteran who's now a free agent, revealed that he is gay in a cover story for this week's edition of Sports Illustrated (read the full article here).
"I'm a 34-year-old NBA center," Collins wrote. "I'm black. And I'm gay."
No current NBA, NFL, NHL or MLB player had come out as gay before Collins. There's already been plenty of public support for the former Nets, Grizzlies, Timberwolves, Hawks, Celtics and Wizards center.
@jasoncollins34. Don't suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others #courage #support #mambaarmystandup #BYOU," tweeted Lakers star Kobe Bryant. Fellow players Baron Davis, Jason Kidd, Nicolas Batum and Braley Beal also took to twitter to support Collins, while Celtics coach Doc Rivers lauded his former player's decision.
"I am extremely happy and proud of Jason Collins," Rivers said in a statement. "He’s a pro’s pro. He is the consummate professional and he is one of my favorite “team” players I have ever coached. If you have learned anything from Jackie Robinson, it is that teammates are always the first to accept. It will be society who has to learn tolerance. One of my favorite sayings is, 'I am who I am, are whom we are, can be what I want to be it's not up to you, it’s just me being me.'
The support hasn't just come from basketball, either. Royals reliever Aaron Crow tweeted: "Good for Jason Collins. I'd be proud to call him a teammate if I played in the NBA."
And former President Bill Clinton, whose daughter, Chelsea, became friends with Collins while the pair were at Stanford, said in a statement:
“It is also the straightforward statement of a good man who wants no more than what so many of us seek: to be able to be who we are; to do our work; to build families and to contribute to our communities. For so many members of the LGBT community, these simple goals remain elusive. I hope that everyone, particularly Jason’s colleagues in the NBA, the media and his many fans extend to him their support and the respect he has earned.”
Others, though, have shied away from commenting on the issue, including Bears linebacker Lance Briggs. When asked on twitter for his thoughts on Collins coming out, Briggs responded: "Tough 6-4 Loss last night for the Cubs!"
Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace sent out two now-deleted tweets saying: "All these beautiful women in the world and guys wanna mess with other guys SMH ... I'm not bashing anybody don't have anything against anyone I just don't understand it." He sent out a semi-retraction later, tweeting: "Never said anything was right or wrong I just said I don't understand!! Deeply sorry for anyone that I offended."