Jason Collins made history on Monday by becoming the first openly gay athlete in American team sports.
In an article for Sports Illustrated, the NBA veteran has officially come out of the closet.
“I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay,” writes Collins in a story that will appear in the May 6 issue of the magazine.
The basketball player has been in the league for 12 years, playing for six different teams. In the 2012-2013 season, he appeared in 38 games, splitting time between the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards.
Collins describes his struggle to Sports Illustrated, saying he first came out to his uncle last summer. He also told his twin brother, Jarron Collins, who played 10 seasons in the NBA.
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Why did Collins decided to make the announcement now? The 2011 NBA lockout was the main catalyst.
“When the regular season ends I immediately dedicate myself to getting game ready for the opener of the next campaign in the fall,” said Collins. “But the lockout wreaked havoc on my habits and forced me to confront who I really am and what I really want. With the season delayed, I trained and worked out. But I lacked the distraction that basketball had always provided.”
Collins may be the first active NBA player to admit that he’s gay, but others in the sport have spoken about their homosexuality.
Former NBA player John Amaechi made headlines in 2007 when he announced that he was gay, once his playing career in the U.S. was over. Phoenix Suns president and CEO Rick Welts did the same in 2011, and Brittney Griner acknowledged that she is a lesbian after she was selected as the No.1 overall pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft.