NBA center Jason Collins, who most recently played for the Washington Wizards, has announced through a column in Sports Illustrated that he is openly gay, becoming the first active NBA player and male athlete in an American professional sport to make the announcement publicly.
Collins is a 12-year NBA veteran, and at 34 years old, the journeyman felt it was the right time to open up and reveal who he really is to the world. While Collins will be entering uncharted waters, there is little doubt that he will be met with acceptance.
Sports Illustrated also talked to Collins’ brother Jarron, a former NBA player, who spoke in depth about what exactly Jason is trying to gain from revealing his homosexuality:
What does Jason want out of this? He wants to live his life. He wants a relationship, he wants a family, he wants to settle down. He wants to move forward with his personal life while maintaining his life as a professional basketball player. That's all, really.
NBA commissioner David Stern was among the first to offer kind words for Collins (via Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today):
NBA Commissioner David Stern on Jason Collins: "We are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue."— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) April 29, 2013
More Stern: "Adam Silver and I said to Jason, we have known the Collins family since Jason and Jarron joined the NBA in 2001 ... "— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) April 29, 2013
More Stern: "and they have been exemplary members of the NBA family."— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) April 29, 2013
More Stern: "Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career."— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) April 29, 2013
Stern was far from the only person who voiced support for Collins, as several NBA players also made made it clear where they stood on the announcement.
The always vocal Baron Davis also had Collins' back:
Denver Nuggets big man Kenneth Faried, who was raised in a household with two mothers, shared his excitement:
Jason Collins showed a lot of courage today and I respect him for taking a stand and choosing to live in his truth. #nbafamily— Way of WADE (@DwyaneWade) April 29, 2013
Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love acknowledged his happiness for Collins, whom he describes as a "great teammate and friend":
As someone who has faced his own internal struggles over the past year, Houston Rockets forward Royce White thanked Collins for having the willingness to face an issue this large:
John Rohde of The Oklahoman was able to talk to Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant and get his thoughts on the announcement:
@kdtrey5 on Jason Collins: "If he's happy, that's cool with me. Seems like a great guy ... I support him."— John Rohde (@RohdeOK) April 29, 2013
While the athletes in the NBA made it clear that they support their brother in arms, it didn’t just stop there. Prominent celebrities across the country have stood up to applaud what Collins has done.
Political activist Chelsea Clinton shared the happiness that she felt for her friend in this time of triumph:
Very proud of my friend Jason Collins for having the strength & courage to be the first openly gay player in the NBA. bit.ly/ZLei9F— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) April 29, 2013
Director/producer and perennial sideline stalker Spike Lee also jumped in to show his support:
Former New York Giants star and TV host Michael Strahan offered his unwavering allegiance:
So proud of @jasoncollins34 for having the courage to stand up and out for who he is. I support, respect and salute you!!— Michael Strahan (@michaelstrahan) April 29, 2013
Robbie Rogers, a former member of the U.S. National soccer team who came out in a retirement letter, believes Collins' situation will have a powerful and positive impact:
I feel a movement coming.— Robbie Rogers (@robbierogers) April 29, 2013
WWE superstar and actor The Rock also offered his support for Collins with the following statement:
Being real & authentic is very powerful. Well done Jason Collins for having the courage to take a monumental step forward. #LiveReal— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) April 29, 2013
The biggest names in media have also come out to stand with Collins against discrimination. They not only appreciate that he became the first openly gay active NBA player, but the manner in which he did so.
CNN’s Rachel Nichols talks about just how well-spoken Collins was in the column and what that meant for the impact of his announcement:
Extremely impressed w/Jason Collins coming out, and doing it so eloquently. He has played on 6 NBA teams and (cont) tl.gd/n_1rk1ete— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) April 29, 2013
Congrats & respect for Jason Collins, and thanks for providing what will be an excellent teaching opportunity for the rest of us.— Larry Coon (@LarryCoon) April 29, 2013
Jason Collins' announcement feels like a pretty significant (and welcome) evolutionary moment in the American sports culture.— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) April 29, 2013
Jason Collins has always been a true professional. Always seek him out on his teams for perspective. Good for him. Hope he is at peace.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) April 29, 2013
The hope now is that the strength and class that Collins has shown and will show throughout this experience will give others in the same position the courage to come out. As much as Collins has remained humble through this process, he has taken a huge first step in the name of equality.
We live in a great nation that supports all kinds of people. If a player is openly gay, there is no reason he or she should be treated any differently.