(CBS) In a story to be published in Sports Illustrated, Wizards center Jason Collins admitted he is gay.
“I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay,” Collins said.
Collins is now the first athlete from a major professional sport to come out during his career.
“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.”
Collins, a 12-year NBA veteran, won the Pete Newell Big Man Of The Year award in 2001.
“Pro basketball is a family,” Collins said. “And pretty much every family I know has a brother, sister or cousin who’s gay. In the brotherhood of the NBA, I just happen to be the one who’s out.”
Following Collins’ announcement, NBA commissioner David Stern released the following statement:
“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.”