JASON COLLINS: THE (FORMERLY) ANONYMOUS PIONEER

(Photo Credit: SI.com)

Way back in 2000, my parents were friends with a chaplain of the New Jersey Nets (now the Brooklyn Nets). Sometimes he’d stop by after his pre-game prayer meetings with autographed basketballs, t-shirts, jerseys, etc. You name it, he had it.

One afternoon, he handed me a basketball with two autographs scribbled on it in black marker. One was easy to read. “Eric Snow“, with a large cursive “E“. The second was not entirely legible, but the number scribbled next to it was easier to make out. “Who’s number 35?“, I asked. “Jason Collins”. I still have that basketball tucked away in my bedroom closet. I never thought much of it, since the players who signed it were fairly anonymous. Fast forward 13 years and the name Jason Collins is everywhere. No, not for his accomplishments on the court, but rather for the courage he’s shown off of it. Yesterday, Jason became the first active professional athlete in the four major American sports to publicly announce he is gay. Until now, gay athletes had been silent about their sexually for a variety of reasons, but Jason decided he could no longer keep his secret and that honesty is the best way for him to move forward.

Within the past 24 hours, Jason has received an incredible outpouring of love and support from family, friends, fans, celebrities and even the president of the United States, who told him “What you did today was brave. It didn’t just affect me. It affected so many other people in the country. I’m proud of you.”

Wow.

Needless to say, this is a massive step forward for America as a whole, and all it took was one man having the courage to step forward, not because he sought attention or acceptance from the public, but because he “wanted to do the right thing” for himself and his loved ones.

Jason Collins has transcended sports. The once anonymous NBA journeyman is now a symbol of hope and change; someone we can all admire for his bravery. Yes, he’s changed the game forever, but more importantly, he let the truth prevail.

I’m definitely keeping that basketball.

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Written by Andrew Canlon
Andrew Canlon

April 30th, 2013 at 8:39 pm

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Posted in Experience