First openly gay NBA player - Jason Collins - FOX 35 News Orlando

Jason Collins comes out to SI

First openly gay NBA player

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Wizards Jason Collins, First openly gay NBA player

Jason Collins, who finished out this season with the Washington Wizards, has come out as the first openly gay player still active in the NBA. Collins, a center, has also played for the Boston Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Jersey Nets, Atlanta Hawks, and Memphis Grizzlies.

Jason Collins becomes the first male professional athlete in the major four American sports leagues to come out as gay.

Collins wrote a first-person account posted Monday on Sports Illustrated's website. The 34-year-old Collins has played for six NBA teams in 12 seasons. He is now a free agent. He said he wants to continue playing.

NBA Commissioner David Stern issued a statement saying: "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."

The Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin issued a statement saying, "With his brave and honest announcement today, Jason Collins has forever changed the face of sports. No longer will prejudice and fear force gay athletes to remain silent about a fundamental part of their lives. By coming out and living openly while still an active NBA player, Collins has courageously shown the world that one's sexual orientation is no longer an impediment to achieving one's goals, even at the highest levels of professional sports.

"Jason Collins' commitment to living openly is a monumental step forward toward greater equality and he immediately becomes a role model for youth all across this country. His actions today tell LGBT young people that what will define our success in life is our character and dedication, not our sexual orientation. At a moment when millions are reflecting on the life and legacy of Jackie Robinson, Jason Collins is a hero for our own times.

"Today's announcement again shows that gay Americans are our teachers, police officers, nurses, lawyers and even our professional athletes. We contribute to every aspect of our American community and deserve the same equal rights as every American."

White House spokesman Jay Carney called that decision courageous. He said the White House supports Collins.

"We view that as another example of the progress that has been made and the evolution that has been taking place in this country," Carney said.

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is running for mayor, issued a statement saying Collins is opening a door for all other athletes.

"But let's think about something else: there will be a day soon when a young boy or a young girl is sitting watching the NBA finals or the Super Bowl or the World Series," Quinn said. "What Jason did today is literally going to save lives. Because the greatest athletes -- who are children's heroes more than athletes? -- are also LGBT and it's okay.

Copyright/MyFoxNY.com/Associated Press

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