Jason Collins, in two articles written in his own words, announced that he would be retiring from the NBA.

Jason Collins Retiring

Collins was a little known player in the NFL prior to becoming the first active NBA player to come out as gay in April 2013. Several months after his announcement, the NBA free agent was picked up by the Brooklyn Nets, then coached by Collins ex teammate Jason Kidd. Collins feels grateful for the chance to play in the NBA as an openly gay man, thanks in large part to the fans, the players and coaches.

“It has been 18 exhilarating months since I came out in Sports Illustrated as the first openly gay man in one of the four major professional team sports,” Collins wrote for Sports Illustrated. “And it has been nine months since I signed with the Nets and became the first openly gay male athlete to appear in a game in one of those leagues. It feels wonderful to have been part of these milestones for sports and for gay rights, and to have been embraced by the public, the coaches, the players, the league and history.”

Proving skeptics wrong, Collins seamlessly managed to return to the NBA, failing to cause a distraction in the locker room or on the court. Fans cheered for him, players supported him and it was all just basketball as usual – particularly after the media blitz faded. While Michael Sam managed to become the first out gay man to be drafted to an NFL team, he hasn’t made it onto the field come game day in an NFL uniform, and was recently dropped from the Dallas Cowboys practice roster. Collins is hopeful that despite setbacks like Sam’s, his experience will soon be replicated.

“There are still no publicly gay players in the NFL, NHL or major league baseball. Believe me: They exist. Every pro sport has them. I know some of them personally,” Collins continued for SI. “When we get to the point where a gay pro athlete is no longer forced to live in fear that he’ll be shunned by teammates or outed by tabloids, when we get to the point where he plays while his significant other waits in the family room, when we get to the point where he’s not compelled to hide his true self and is able to live an authentic life, then coming out won’t be such a big deal. But we’re not there yet.”

Now that he’s putting his professional basketball career behind him, Collins hopes to advocate for more out players in sports.

“Many people have asked, “What’s next?” I’ll continue to encourage others to live an authentic life,” Collins wrote in his The Players’ Tribune essay. “My hope is that everyone achieves that day when you step forward and reveal your truth on your own terms. Your life will be exponentially better when you celebrate all that makes you unique. Additionally, I hope to inspire others to create a world of acceptance and inclusion; not only by their words, but by their actions.”

Collins plans to officially announce his retirement Wednesday night at the Barclays Center, where the Nets will be taking on the Milwaukee Bucks.

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