This morning NBA player Jason Collins revealed he’s gay in an essay published in Sports Illustrated.
“I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay,” the 34-year-old center wrote in his first person article published online this morning.
Collins’ article sparked messages of support, including from his friend Chelsea Clinton, who was his classmate at Stanford. “I am very proud of my friend Jason Collins for having the strength and courage to become the first openly gay athlete in the NBA,” Clinton posted on her Facebook page. “His decision marks an important moment for professional sports and for our country.”
Clinton’s father, former president Bill Clinton also issued a statement in support.
“I have known Jason Collins since he was Chelsea’s classmate and friend at Stanford,” reads Clinton’s statement. “Jason’s announcement today is an important moment for professional sports and in the history of the LGBT community. 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.”
White House press secretary Jay Carney also announced the president’s support for Collins.
“We commend him for his courage and support him in this effort,” Carney told reporters at a daily briefing.
The Wizards, whom Collins has been playing with most recently, also released a statement that read, “We are 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.”
In April 2011, Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 for calling a referee an anti-gay slur and it appears he may have learned a thing or two. Shortly after Collin’s Sports Illustrated piece was published there was a message of support from Bryant’s Twitter feed.
NBA Commissioner David Stern also issued a statement this morning in support of Collins: > “As Adam Silver and I said to Jason, we have known the Collins family since Jason and Jarron joined the NBA in 2001 and they have been exemplary members of the NBA family. Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue.”