When center Jason Collins came out as the first openly-gay NBA player last April, he inspired many athletes like him to live their lives and be themselves.
One of them was the University of Massachusetts basketball player Derrick Gordon. In an interview with ESPN’s Kate Fagan, which aired on Wednesday, the 22-year-old starting sophomore shooting guard announced that he’s gay, becoming the first active Division I male basketball player to come out.
"I just didn't want to hide anymore, in any way," Gordon told ESPN. "I didn't want to have to lie or sneak. I've been waiting and watching for the last few months, wondering when a Division I player would come out, and finally I just said, 'Why not me?'"
Gordon said he was inspired by NBA veteran Collins, who announced he was gay in an open letter to Sports Illustrated in April 2013 and was signed to the Brooklyn Nets in February 2014, becoming the first active openly-gay player in the NBA.
"That was so important to me, knowing that sexuality didn't matter, that the NBA was OK with it," Gordon continued in the ESPN interview.
Gordon added that he spoke to Collins about his coming out and that the NBA vet extended an open line of communication just in case Gordon ever wanted to talk to him again in the future. Gordon also said that his parents are at peace with his decision and only his twin brother questioned him and needs time to come around on his decision and the fact that he's a gay man. He also mentioned that coming out meant he doesn't have to lie to his teammates and tell them he has a girlfriend anymore and that a huge weight has been lifted from his shoulders. Shortly after the news broke on Wednesday, Gordon also took to his Twitter account to say the following:
“I am the first Division 1 male basketball player to come out and not the last. I AM gay. I’m not afraid. I’m not alone.”
His UMass team and school accepts him and is happy he’s a part of their program and school.
"UMass is proud to have Derrick Gordon as a member of our athletic family and to honor his courage and openness as a gay student-athlete," athletic director John McCutcheon said in a written statement to ESPN. "UMass is committed to creating a welcoming climate where every student-athlete, coach and staff member can be true to themselves as they pursue their athletic, academic, and professional goals."
Gordon averaged 9.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and two assists per game for UMass this past season.
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(Photo: AP Photo/Ty Wright, File)