— WASHINGTON (AP) — Last summer, NBA veteran Jason Collins considered joining an old Stanford college roommate, U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, at Boston's gay pride parade.
Collins eventually decided he shouldn't, because he wanted to keep his secret safe: For more than a decade as a professional athlete, he had remained silent about his sexuality, worried about what teammates, opponents, fans — the world, really — might think.
Then came the Boston Marathon bombings two weeks ago, which Collins says "reinforced the notion that I shouldn't wait for the circumstances of my coming out to be perfect. Things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully?"
So after having, he explains, "endured years of misery and gone to enormous lengths to live a lie," Collins became the first active player in one of the four major U.S. pro sports leagues to come out as gay. He wrote a first-person article posted Monday on Sports Illustrated's website that begins: "I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay."
"I think the country is ready for supporting an openly gay basketball player," Collins told ABC's "Good Morning America" in an interview aired Tuesday morning.
Most recently a little-used reserve center for the Washington Wizards after a midseason trade from the Boston Celtics, the 7-foot Collins is a free agent who can sign with any team. He wants to keep playing in the NBA.
And he plans to be in Boston on June 8, marching alongside Kennedy at the city's 2013 gay pride parade.
"I didn't doubt for a second, knowing he was gay, that he would be the one to do it," Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, told The Associated Press. "I've never known him to look for publicity, or to look for the spotlight, but given that no one else would raise their hand, I knew he would do it."