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Jason Collins becomes first active openly gay NBA player

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Jason Collins, who finished the 2012-13 season with the Washington Wizards, announced he is gay in an exclusive article for Sports Illustrated. Collins is the first active NBA player to come out of the closet.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Collins, who finished the 2012-13 NBA season with the Washington Wizards, is the NBA's first open, active gay player. The 12-year veteran revealed the news to the public in an article in this week's Sports Illustrated. While doing so, he steadfastly notes that he hopes to be signed as a free agent this summer so he can continue his playing career.

Collins writes he first began the process of coming out during the 2011 lockout. He slowly revealed the news to family members before searching for the right moment to make it public. Collins decided not to do so during the 2012-13 season because he wanted to show loyalty to the Celtics, but the midseason trade to the Wizards caused him to have doubts. Eventually, he decided to make the announcement at the end of the season.

While he stayed silent until now, he wore No. 98 as a homage to Matthew Shepard, a gay student at Wyoming that was kidnapped, tortured and later killed in 1998. Collins also writes that he was truly ready to go public in 2012 when an old college roomate marched in the gay pride parade.

I hope everyone reads Collins' piece in Sports Illustrated. I admire his courage and hope that he is treated well by everyone after this.

UPDATE: The Wizards' statement on the news:

"We are extremely proud of Jason and support his decision to live his life proudly and openly. He has been a leader on and off the court and an outstanding teammate throughout his NBA career. Those qualities will continue to serve him both as a player and as a positive role model for others of all sexual orientation."