Posted Monday, April 29, 2013 --- 11:32 a.m.
NEW YORK (AP) -- NBA veteran center Jason Collins has become the first active male professional athlete in the major four American sports leagues to come out as gay.
Collins wrote a first-person account posted Monday on Sports Illustrated's website. The 34-year-old Collins has played for six NBA teams in 12 seasons. He finished this past season with the Washington Wizards and is now a free agent. He says he wants to continue playing.
Collins writes: "If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand."
Monday, Madison athletes reacted to the news.
"I definitely felt a burst of pride when someone took that step," said Patrick Farabaugh, the founder of the Madison Gay Hockey League Association. Started in 2006, MGHA has grown to be the largest gay hockey league in the country. Farabaugh knows firsthand, it's especially difficult for male athletes to come out because they're involved in these highly-competitive, highly-masculine sports. But he says when they have someone to look up to as an example, the burden of being the only one goes away.
"Hopefully given what Jason did today in professional basketball, will send that same message to other professional athletes that there is a pathway to do this," Farabaugh said. "You finally do have a role model that can show you what that road looks like."
Collins played in a Final Four for Stanford and reached two NBA Finals. His twin brother, Jarron, was also a longtime NBA center. Jason says he came out to his brother last summer.
Copyright 2013: Associated Press