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Jason Collins just may be the bravest NBA center of all time. In the May 6, 2013 issue of Sports Illustrated, the Stanford grad reveals that he is gay.

The story is written in a first person perspective, and the NBA journeyman gets right to the point.

I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.

I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, “I’m different.” If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.

My journey of self-discovery and self-acknowledgement began in my hometown of Los Angeles and has taken me through two state high school championships, the NCAA Final Four and the Elite Eight, and nine playoffs in 12 NBA seasons.

I’ve played for six pro teams and have appeared in two NBA Finals. Ever heard of a parlor game called Three Degrees of Jason Collins? If you’re in the league, and I haven’t been your teammate, I surely have been one of your teammates’ teammates. Or one of your teammates’ teammates’ teammates.

A kicker to the story is that his twin brother, Jarron, claims he had no idea. Time will tell if Collins’ revelation has an ill effect on his career. It shouldn’t, because you can’t teach height (he stands 7′ tall), and whatever team he has been on he has always been the consummate professional which has lead to steady work despite career averages of just 3.6 points per game and 3.8 rebounds per game.

NBA Commissioner David Stern issued the following statement regarding Collins’ big reveal:

“As Adam Silver and I said to Jason, we have known the Collins family since Jason and Jarron joined the NBA in 2001 and they have been exemplary members of the NBA family. Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue.”

Jason Collins, for your courage, we salute you.

Check out the cover on the next page. Read the rest of the story over at Sports Illustrated.

Photo: Sports Illustrated/Kwaku Alston

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