Who Is Jason Collins?
Jason Paul Collins was born in Northridge, California on December 2, 1978. After playing basketball with his twin brother, Jarron, in high school and at Stanford University, Collins developed into a capable NBA defender for multiple teams. On April 29, 2013, he became the first active male athlete in the four major North American professional sports to proclaim his homosexuality.
Early Years and Education
Jason and Jarron played basketball for Harvard-Westlake High School in North Hollywood, California, where future television and movie star Jason Segel served as their backup. They won a pair of California State championships together. As a senior in 1997, Jason was named to the McDonald's High School Basketball All-American Team.
The twins enrolled at Stanford University. Limited to eight games over his first two seasons because of injuries, Jason averaged 14.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in his senior year and was an honorable mention on the All-American Team. He graduated with a degree in communications and was the 18th pick in the 2001 NBA draft with the New Jersey Nets.
Collins never became a star in the NBA, but at a rock-solid 7'0" and 255 pounds, he defended the league's best and largest players and logged regular minutes for the Nets teams that reached the NBA finals in 2002 and '03. He had his best season in 2004-05 when he averaged 6.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, but he also had a league-high 322 personal fouls.
Collins played with the Memphis Grizzlies in early 2008, then spent the following season with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He found a home with the Atlanta Hawks for the next three seasons, providing his usual tough defense off the bench to help them reach the playoffs each time. He played sparingly during the 2012-13 season for the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards, averaging just 1.1 points and 1.6 rebounds per game, before becoming a free agent.
In 2014, Collins signed a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets, officially making him the first openly gay athlete to sign with a U.S. professional sports team. Later that year, Collins again signed a 10-day deal with the Nets that was extended through the rest of the season.
On November 19, 2014, Collins announced his retirement from professional basketball. He played 13 seasons in the NBA.
On April 29, 2013, the internet lit up with the revelation that Collins was gay, making him the first openly gay active male athlete in the four major North American sports. In an article released in the May 6 issue of Sports Illustrated, Collins made his official announcement and explained his reasoning for coming out when he did: Having grown tired of guarding his secret for years, he was frustrated when he could not join his former roommate, Massachusetts Congressman Joseph Kennedy III, and participate in Boston's 2012 Gay Pride Parade. Furthermore, he said, the recent bombings at the Boston Marathon made him realize the impermanence of everyday life and the importance of living truthfully.
In the wake of the announcement, NBA stars such as Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash tweeted their support. White House spokesman Jay Carney lauded Collins's statement as a courageous act, and former U.S. President Bill Clinton, whose daughter, Chelsea, attended Stanford with Collins, wrote that the basketball star's words were "the straightforward statement of a good man who wants no more than what so many of us seek: to be able to be who we are; to do our work; to build families and to contribute to our communities."
Collins was engaged to his ex-girlfriend, former WNBA player Carolyn Moos, before he unexpectedly called off their wedding in 2009. The same day the Sports Illustrated story ran in 2013, Collins called Moos to tell her he was gay. It was the first time the two had discussed the matter.
Collins has been dating Oscar-nominated producer Brunson Green as early as 2014.
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