Baylor star Brittney Griner acknowledges she is gay

Brittney Griner, a No. 1 draft pick and now a social icon as well. (AP)

Baylor star Brittney Griner has revealed she's a lesbian. The Bears center, who was picked No. 1 overall in the recent WNBA Draft (to the Phoenix Mercury) and is considered by many to be an all-time great in women's college basketball, casually explained her sexual orientation to Sports Illustrated.

Griner was asked by SI's Maggie Gray on the difference between men's and women's sports when it comes to acceptance of sexual orientation; why the WNBA has been able to often embrace many lesbians within their sport, while male sports in America still waits on its first publicly gay player.

"I really couldn't give an answer on why that's so different," Griner told SI. "Being one that's out, it's just being who you are. Again, like I said, just be who you are. Don't worry about what other people are going to say, because they're always going to say something, but, if you're just true to yourself, let that shine through. Don't hide who you really are."

Griner's been a national, high-profile athlete since her freshman season at Baylor. She was the No. 1 high school player in the class of 2009, was named to multiple All-American teams during her college career and led Baylor to the national championship in 2012. She is the only player in women's college hoop history to score more than 2,000 points and block more than 500 shots.

She said her public image really had no impact on her lifestyle or choice to come out.

"It really wasn't too difficult, I wouldn't say I was hiding or anything like that," Griner said. "I've always been open about who I am and my sexuality. So, it wasn't hard at all. If I can show that I'm out and I'm fine and everything's OK, then hopefully the younger generation will definitely feel the same way."

The 22-year-old Griner will begin her professional career on May 27, when the Mercury open their season against the Chicago Sky. The Sky recently drafted Delaware's Elena Delle Donne, who is also quoted in the piece linked above about Griner's public decision and the nature of women's sports and sexuality.

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Norlander has been with CBS Sports since 2010, primarily covering college basketball but also writes about the NBA Draft, the Olympics and the World Cup. He lives in Connecticut and loves to play... Full Bio

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