Orlando Cruz of Puerto Rico came out in October as the first openly gay professional male boxer. Canadian swimmer Mark Tewksbury came out six years after winning a gold medal in the backstroke at the 1992 Barcelona Games. Four-time Olympic diving gold medalist Greg Louganis of the U.S. revealed he was gay in 1994, a year before announcing he was also HIV-positive. Former Olympic skiing gold medalist Anja Paerson of Sweden announced last year, after retiring, that she was in a long-term relationship with a woman.
In SI, Collins recounts that the first relative he came out to was his aunt, Teri Jackson, a San Francisco Superior Court Judge.
"I don't think Jason looked at his life as being a trailblazer," Jackson said Monday. "He has no regrets coming out. And he wants to play. And we'll see what happens next."
Collins says he told his twin brother, Jarron, last summer. Jarron was also a longtime NBA center who last played in the league in the 2010-11 season.
"He was downright astounded," Collins says.
Collins writes self-effacingly about his journeyman NBA career and a parlor game he calls "Three Degrees of Jason Collins," explaining: "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."
That joking, though, leads to a larger point.
"Some people insist they've never met a gay person. But Three Degrees of Jason Collins dictates that no NBA player can claim that anymore. Pro basketball is a family. And pretty much every family I know has a brother, sister or cousin who's gay," Collins concludes. "In the brotherhood of the NBA, I just happen to be the one who's out."