NBA Star Jason Collins Says He's Gay

"I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay," he writes.

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NBA player Jason Collins has revealed to the world that he is gay.

The 34-year-old pro's story is chronicled in a heartfelt and candid personal essay, published Monday morning by Sports Illustrated.

"I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport," he writes. "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."

Collins, who said he first started thinking about coming out during the 2011 NBA lockout, continues:

I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston's 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I'm seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy. I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn't even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator. If I'd been questioned, I would have concocted half truths. What a shame to have to lie at a celebration of pride. I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. I want to take a stand and say, "Me, too."
He adds he will be marching with Kennedy in the 2013 parade on June 8.

Collins, who was traded to the Washington Wizards in February, is the first active NBA player to reveal he is gay.

Read his three-page story now on Sports Illustrated.

UPDATE: NBA Commissioner David Stern released a statement on NBA's official Twitter account, writing:

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.
 

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