Newly minted WNBA star Brittney Griner revealed Wednesday that she is gay.
Griner, who was named the first overall selection of Monday’s WNBA draft, said that she has discussed her sexuality before. Still, Wednesday marked the first time that the 6-foot-8 phenom acknowledged the matter publicly.
In a Wednesday interview with Sports Illustrated, Griner sat down with fellow top draft picks Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins to discuss why women’s sports were more accepting of gay athletes than men’s sports.
"I really couldn't give an answer on why that's so different," Griner told SI. "Being one that's out, it's just being who you are. Again, like I said, just be who you are."
Griner added that the opinions of other athletes regarding a person’s sexuality are irrelevant.
"Don't worry about what other people are going to say, because they're always going to say something, but, if you're just true to yourself, let that shine through. Don't hide who you really are," she said.
Sports Illustrated also asked the former Baylor standout if her status as a prominent sports figure made it more difficult to come out.
"It really wasn't too difficult," she responded. "I wouldn't say I was hiding or anything like that. I've always been open about who I am and my sexuality. So, it wasn't hard at all. If I can show that I'm out and I'm fine and everything's OK, then hopefully the younger generation will definitely feel the same way."
In a separate interview with the Associated Press, Griner discussed how she was "picked on for being different.”
"Just being bigger, my sexuality, everything," she told AP. "I overcame it and got over it. Definitely something that I am very passionate about. I want to work with kids and bring recognition to the problem, especially with the LGBT community."
Griner credited her parents with giving her the strength to be open about her sexuality.
"My parents didn't know at the time," Griner told USA Today. "I hadn't come out completely. It was kind of like, you know ... I just hadn't said it. My dad and my mom have always told me, 'Be who you are.' At the time, they probably weren't sure what I was interpreting that as," she said with a laugh.
Dominant on both offense and defense, Griner finished her career at Baylor as the second all-time leading scorer in NCAA history, as well as the top shot-blocker in college basketball history. In the WNBA, Griner will play for the Phoenix Mercury.