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Bill Kennedy, an 18-year veteran of the NBA‘s referee corps, has come out as gay. The announcement came after Sacremento Kings player Rajon Rondo allegedly unleashed a barrage of homophobic insults and slurs at Kennedy during a game earlier this month.

Yahoo Sports reports:

“I am proud to be an NBA referee and I am proud to be a gay man,” Kennedy told Yahoo Sports on Sunday night. “I am following in the footsteps of others who have self-identified in the hopes that will send a message to young men and women in sports that you must allow no one to make you feel ashamed of who you are.”

Kennedy declined further comment on his announcement.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver delivered a statement of support for Kennedy.

“I wholeheartedly support Bill’s decision to live his life proudly and openly,” Silver told Yahoo Sports in a statement. “Throughout his 18-year career with the league, Bill has excelled as a referee because of his passion, dedication and courage. Those qualities will continue to serve him well both as a game official and as a positive influence for others. While our league has made great progress, our work continues to ensure that everyone is treated with respect and dignity.”

On Dec. 3, Rondo was ejected from a contest against his former squad, the Boston Celtics, after amassing a pair of technicals. Rondo, who has denied saying the slurs, was said to have called Kennedy a “motherf—–g f—-t” as he was being tossed and even tried to physically approach him.

Rondo was given a three-game suspension last Friday for his actions after the league looked deeper into the matter. Although not the elite player he once was, Rondo still earns big dollars as he’s making $9.5 million this season alone.

The suspension will cost the guard $86,300. The notoriously moody Rondo nor his representatives have commented on the suspension publicly.

Photo: Associated Press