Athletes Team Up in Fight Against Homophobia in Sports

Donté Stallworth, Brendon Ayanbadejo among players who've joined Athlete Ally.

Posted: 04/11/2013 12:27 PM EDT
Donté Stallworth

Donté Stallworth is the latest professional athlete who's lending a hand in the fight against homophobia in sports. Through Athlete Ally, an organization that encourages all members of the sports community to respect each other, players are making sure that gay teammates feel comfortable, safe and supported. The NFL wide receiver, who told The Huffington Post that a near-death experience with his girlfriend in a hot-air balloon pushed him to contribute to a good cause, credits former fellow Baltimore Ravens player Brendon Ayanbadejo for inspiring him to fight for this particular stance.

"I think it's important for us as professional athletes not only to set the tone in our own respective fields, but also for the kids who are watching our programs or our sports," he said. "If you isolate a child and teach them hate, hate, hate, that's the way they're going to grow up. ... And unfortunately, that's the environment that I grew up in. There was a lot of disrespect for gays. I unfortunately was a part of that. But as I got older, I became more ashamed of that and more open to rights for all."

Ayanbadejo is chairman of the group's advisory board with NFL players Scott Fujita and Chris Kluwe and mixed martial arts fighter Rashad Evans as part of the group.

To learn more about Athlete Ally and to sign the pledge, visit athleteally.com.


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