Making his only field goal attempt of the game, Collins also hit a free throw, finishing the contest with three points. He also had four fouls in his eight minutes of play, again showcasing the hard-nosed defense he has shown during his career.
But Collins will not remember his trip to the Mile High City for the points, nor simply because his team was able to pick up the win. Instead, it may be the visitors he received after the game that resonate most.
After the contest, Collins met with Dennis and Judy Shepard, who drove down from Wyoming to attend the game along with their son.
"It was great," said Judy Shepard. "It was all great. He's very kind, smart, humble. It was delightful. We were happy to finally have the opportunity to meet."
Dennis and Judy’s other son Matthew was tragically killed after being beaten and tortured in a vicious anti-gay hate crime in Laramie, Wyo. in 1998.
Collins, the first openly gay athlete in NBA history, wears the number 98 to honor Matthew Sheppard, Now, the slain Shepard’s parents will be heading home with the NBA’s top-selling jersey. A jersey that, more importantly, pays homage to their fallen son.
“It was very sweet, very genuine and very thoughtful," said Judy of the gesture.
Collins first came out as gay last April in an interview with Sports Illustrated. A free agent at the time, he did not sign with another team until Brooklyn took a chance on the big man last week. In limited minutes, the 35-year-old Collins has shown he still has a place in the NBA, regardless of both age and sexual orientation; serving as an inspiration to children, both gay and straight alike, to be true to themselves.
"Jason helps those kids go ahead and live their lives to the fullest, and take their talent in academics, in sports, wherever it can take them," said Dennis Shepard. "Some kids are still living hidden lives, living in fear, and the more you see Jason and Michael Sam and others encouraging them to be themselves, they'll understand they can get to the top of whatever ladder they're climbing."