The first openly gay NBA player, Jason Collins, is saying goodbye to the NBA. The baller, who joined the Brooklyn Nets last year for a quick season, confirmed on Wednesday that he is retiring.
“Today, I am retiring from the NBA after 13 seasons. Most people reading this probably don’t know me from SportsCenter,” he wrote in an a first-person story for Sports Illustrated. “Most people know me as ‘the gay basketball player.’ I have been an openly gay man for approximately three percent of my life. I have been a professional basketball player for almost half of it.”
In the article, Jason also opens up about being a professional basketball player who never had any “road stories.”
“Every other time, I could find a way to laugh it off. This time was different. I was 30 and unmarried. No kids. No crazy road stories. For years, I had dated women—never men, even secretly—but now I was starting to be more honest with myself about my sexuality. I felt like maybe the guards I had put up were starting to wear down. This time, the question stung like it never had before. There’s a very particular feeling in the pit of your stomach when the question comes up. I call it the blush. You feel angry, yet also embarrassed.”
“It felt like everybody on that bus was looking at me and could see right through me. Part of me was tired of running. Part of me wanted to scream out the truth and just get it over with, but I couldn’t. In a split second, that familiar survival instinct kicked in and I thought, Okay, I have to prove to these guys that I’m straight.”
In August 2013, Collins, who was a free agent at the time, announced his sexuality in an issue of Sports Illustrated.