Jason Collins, the first active male athlete in the four major U.S. team sports to come out as gay, addressed the Democratic National Convention on Monday night and revealed that he disclosed his sexual orientation to the Clinton family before going public.
"I've known their family for almost 20 years," the retired NBA player said. "I knew that they would accept me for who I was and that they would help pave a path for others to do the same. I am forever grateful for their words of wisdom back then and their unconditional support. They knew that my sexual orientation made no difference in my ability to play basketball."
Collins and Chelsea Clinton were classmates at Stanford, and the two have been friends since their freshman year.
Collins came out publicly at the end of the 2012-13 NBA regular season in an article he wrote for Sports Illustrated. A free agent at the time, he didn't hook on with a team until signing with the Brooklyn Nets in February 2014. He played sparingly until announcing his retirement in November 2014.
"My dream was to play in the NBA and live my authentic life as a proud gay man at the same time," Collins said Monday night. "I was able to accomplish both of those goals because of the people who have supported me throughout my life."
Collins was introduced on the convention stage by twin brother Jarron, also a former NBA player and a current Golden State Warriors assistant.
Jason Collins has become an advocate for LGBT rights and last week addressed the NBA's decision to move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, North Carolina, over objections to the state's House Bill 2, writing: "As a member of the NBA family and as a gay man, I'm extremely proud to see the NBA take initiative and move the All Star Game from North Carolina. Their decision is an extremely poignant one and shows that discrimination of any kind is not welcome in sports and is not acceptable in any part of our society. The NBA has set the best kind of example and precedent moving forward for all to follow."