Current Washington Wizards player Jason Collins made history and massive headlines on Monday with his declaration of being gay, becoming the first active athlete in the history of mainstream American professional team sports to publicly announce his homosexuality. (Here's his coming-out piece from Sports Illustrated.)
Following Collins' announcement, his Stanford brethren have put out releases in support of him. First it was Mark Madsen, current Stanford assistant, former NBA player and a vital piece on that 1998 Stanford team that reached the Final Four. Madsen played with Collins in Palo Alto for three seasons and for one year in the pros.
“Jason Collins is one of the greatest people you will ever meet in your life," Madsen said in a statement. "He is one of my all-time favorite teammates, both here at Stanford and for one season together in the NBA with Minnesota. What stands out to me about Jason is his leadership and sense of humor. Even at Stanford, Jason was involved with campus life outside of basketball. On NBA teams, he was a guy who kept everything loose and was able to bridge a lot of different gaps, whether it was international players, veterans or rookies. Basketball does not define Jason Collins. His decision to come out publicly doesn't define Jason Collins. What defines Jason, is he is a first-rate human being who made a huge contribution to this University, and every team or community he has been a part of.”
Bernard Muir, athletic director of the school, released this statement.
“I am proud to hear that Jason, one of our Stanford sons, has taken a leadership role on this topic. I applaud his decision to be true to his identity and, from his own words, start this conversation in major professional sports. On behalf of a diverse athletic community I hope that we progress to the point in society where truthful moments like these are no longer newsworthy.”
On Twitter Monday afternoon, current Portland Pilots coach Eric Reveno -- who for nine years was an assistant under Mike Montgomery at Stanford and who coached Collins -- had this to say:
As a former Stanford player and coach, its a proud day. Proud of Jason's courage/leadership and amazing response on email by his teammates.— Eric Reveno (@CoachReveno) April 29, 2013
The sports world is buzzing over Collins' decision, undoubtedly. And beyond the support he's receiving, it looks like the reverberations here will amount to one of the biggest stories of 2013.