Jason Collins’s NBA career may have had some rocky points in the past year, but in the meantime, he was taking on a new, unofficial role in the sports world as a confidant.
After becoming the first active male athlete in a major U.S. professional sport league to publicly announce he is gay, Collins has become a mentor, an advocate and the keeper of secrets for those not quite ready to take the same step.
“I have had a moment where, well actually a couple moments, where people in the realm of sports have confided in me,” Collins told The Reliable Source. “That’s sort of my role now,” he said, “paving the road for other people to take that brave step and embrace who they are publicly.”
The former Washington Wizards center, who didn’t sign on with another NBA team until February, has certainly embraced his new role. He’s the face of a new LGBT campaign launched by Marriott this week in celebration of Pride Week. At the center of it all is a multi-story portrait of Collins draped over the side of the J.W. Marriott in downtown D.C.
It’s been quite a whirlwind for Collins since he came out in a April 2013 Sports Illustrated article: He has wined and dined with the Obamas; chatted with Oprah; met his idol, tennis star Martina Navratilova; spoken at the United Nations; and even found time to start dating someone. He sums up the year in one hashtag: #surreallife.
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