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Collins Makes a Deal

Collins is the first openly gay player in American sports history.
Collins is the first openly gay player in American sports history. sportsillustrated.cnn.com

Jason Collins is officially the first openly gay NBA player.

Collins has been a professional basketball player since 2001, but hasn’t played in a game since his headline-making announcement in 2013 in a Sports Illustrated column, until today.

His story starts in Northridge, California. He was born just eight minutes before his twin brother Jarron, who retired from the Portland Trail Blazers in 2011. He played for Stanford University and finished his college career ranked number 1 in Stanford history for field goal percentage and third in blocked shots.

Following his announcement, he received high praise and support from across the country with the exception of his ex-fiancée, former WBNA player Carolyn Moos who confessed she only learned of Collins’ sexual orientation shortly before the column was published.

Despite anyone’s feelings on the topic, this is a complete “game-changer” for the industry. The institution of American sports is obsessed with machismo and brutal manliness. Collins’ decision to bravely express his truth is commendable and will hopefully empower other players to confidently be who they are, love whom they want, and accept fellow players of varying lifestyles. After all, it’s all about the game.

He signed a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets and is slated to hit the court as early as tonight when they take on the Lakers in Los Angeles. Follow the score!

Some Poignant facts:

• His career started with the Nets when they were the New Jersey Nets back in 2001. Nets coach Jason Kidd became good friends with Collins while they were teammates in New Jersey from 2001-2008 and was a major factor in getting Collins signed.

• Jackie Robinson, the first black major league baseball player, signed to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

• Mikhail D. Prokhorov, owner of the Brooklyn Nets, is from Russia where President Vladimir V. Putin is under intense scrutiny for anti-gay legislation.

• Collins chose “98” for his Jersey number to remember the year Matthew Sheppard was brutally murdered for being gay in Laramie, WY.

• Collins is the only openly gay player in every major American league- including the NFL, NHL, and Major League Baseball.

• This may change in April if NFL hopeful Michael Sam is drafted in April.