Former Memphis Grizzlies Player Admits to Being Gay

Former Memphis Grizzlies Player Admits to Being Gay

The NBA’s Jason Collins has come out as the first openly gay male athlete still active. Other athletes have come out once their playing careers were over, but never while still playing.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The NBA’s Jason Collins has come out as the first openly gay male athlete still active. Other athletes have come out once their playing careers were over, but never while still playing. Collins is a former member of the Memphis Grizzlies.

Jason Collins has played 12 years in the NBA and wants another contract. Just a year ago, not even his twin brother Jarron, also an NBA athlete, knew Jason was gay. Now everyone knows, and for the most part, reaction has been positive.

“This is a big step,” said Will Batts, the Executive Director of the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center, “I mean a professional athlete, still active, still playing, comes out.”

That is exactly what Collins does in the May 6, 2013 issue of Sports Illustrated. In the article Collins said, “I’m a 34 year old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”

“I have been teammates with Jason Collins,” said Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley, who played with Collins in the 2007-2008 season. “I think Jason Collins, what he did was admirable. I think a lot of people wouldn’t do that. It takes a lot of courage.”

It takes courage because of opinions like the one voiced in 2007 by former NBA star, Tim Hardaway.

“You know, I hate gay people,” Hardaway said on the Dan Le Batard radio show, “I let it be known, I don’t like gay people.”

The same thing cannot be said of Conley.

“He’s always been a great guy,” Conley said of Collins, “he’s always been a great teammate. He’s no different than anybody else.”

“When people see other people that look like them, or they can identify with, this causes something huge. So, it is very important that things like this happen,” said Martavius Hampton from the Gay Community Center.

For others, Collins’ revelation was met with seeming indifference.

“I don’t care,” said Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, “we have gay people in all walks of life. We have gay people in everyone’s families. It is what it is.”

“He represents something that all of us should be proud of in our community,” Batts told abc24.com, “somebody who is being honest and risking his livelihood.”

“I think the NBA should be ready for it,” said Conley, “and I think guys will accept it and just play ball.”

They really don’t have much choice.

“We were already in sports,” said Batts, “in football, in basketball and baseball. We’re already there.”

None other than Kobe Bryant tweeted, “Proud of Jason Collins; don’t suffocate who you are because of the ignorance of others.”

And several comments were posted to the ABC 24 Facebook page.

Autumn Lindsay wrote: “Who cares; kudos to him; equal rights for everyone.”

And from Jim Lord: “It hopefully won’t be breaking news much longer that gay people are normal and in every walk of life.”

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