Jason Collins becomes first openly-gay athlete in major sport - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

Jason Collins becomes first openly-gay athlete in major league sport

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It's a day that's been talked about a lot in recent years: When will the first athlete from a major sport announce he is gay? Well, Monday, NBA veteran Jason Collins broke the barrier.

In an article written for Sports Illustrated, Collins came out, making him the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport.

"I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay," Collins wrote in a Sport Illustrated article published online Monday, which will appear in the May 6 issue.

FOX 9 News spoke with retired Viking Esera Tuaolo, who came out after his career ended, about the historic announcement. Watch the video for more information.

"I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, "I'm different." If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand."

Read the SI article at http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/magazine/news/20130429/jason-collins-gay-nba-player/#ixzz2Rrm7uVWt

Collins played with the Minnesota Timberwolves during the 2008-09 season. After playing with the Celtics and Wizards this season, he's now a free agent.

In Sports Illustrated, Collins writes about how he's had to live a double-life in the NBA -- that he was afraid to come out, even to his family, until recently. He told his twin brother, Jarron, who was in shock but also told his aunt, who said, "I've known you were gay for years."

Collins wanted to come out during the 2013 season, but said he had to stay quiet until the season was over. He changed his number to 98 to reflect the one of the most notorious antigay hate crimes that occurred in 1998 when Matthew Shepard, a University of Wyoming student, was kidnapped, tortured and lashed to a prairie fence. He died five days after he was finally found. But, he never explained to anyone why he changed his number to 98.

Collins is getting a ton of support from, not only the league, but from hundreds of other athletes.

"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," NBA commissioner David Stern said in a statement.

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love tweeted his congratulations on Monday afternoon:

@kevinlove Happy for @jasoncollins34 in his decision. A great teammate and friend. Thanks for helping me through my rookie season!! #classact #courage

So, will this announcement make it easier for other players to come out?


Pro sports more gay-friendly as athletes speak out

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