University of Massachusetts guard Derrick Gordon has become the first openly gay player in the top U.S. men’s college basketball division. Gordon made the announcement in interviews with ESPN and Outsports on Wednesday.
He said he gained confidence by seeing an NBA team sign Jason Collins, who became the league’s first openly gay player when he joined the Brooklyn Nets this season.
Gordon was the Minutemen’s fourth-leading scorer with 9.4 points per game last season, when Massachusetts reached the national college basketball tournament for the first time since 1998.
“I was living life in shame,’’ he said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “It took a toll on me.’’
Collins made a trailblazing announcement last April when he came out in an interview with Sports Illustrated. In February, he became the first openly gay male athlete in the four major North American professional sports leagues. Gordon said he talked with Collins several times before making his announcement.
“There was a time that I didn’t want to play basketball anymore and that’s the worst feeling ever,’’ he said. “Right now I’m happy. I’m free just to live my life.’’
Collins tweeted Wednesday that he was “so proud’’ of Gordon: “Another brave young man who is going to make it easier for so many others to live an authentic life.’’
Michael Sam, an All-American football player at the University of Missouri, came out in February after his college career ended. He could become the first openly gay player in the NFL — he is projected as a middle-round prospect in next month’s NFL draft.