Empowering Inspiration: Jason Paul Collins

Tony Guadagnino

Tony Guadagnino is a marketing consultant. Located in New Jersey, his clients are based across the country, focusing on social media to build their presence on the internet. He studied creative writing in college and is currently working on his first novel on the subject of bullying. He lives with his partner Mark.

Baseball! Football! How about Basketball? Are there any LGBT Members in the sport of basketball? Yes, there are. It was not until 2013 when we saw the first major league player come out in the sport.

Jason Paul Collins and his twin Jarrod grew up in Los Angeles, raised with strong Christian values and a regular churchgoer. Both played the sport in high school, and both winning scholarships to Stanford University for basketball. There, both men continued to play, and Jason was named to All Pac 10 first team. He finished college ranked 1st in Stanford history for field goal percentage (.608) and third in blocked shots (89).

Jason started his basketball career in 2001 by joining the New Jersey Nets. He became the starting center role and helped them win the NBA Finals, a feat that hadn’t been accomplished since 1983. He signed a $25 million contract extension for 5 years with the Nets, before being traded to the Memphis Grizzlies in 2008.

Eventually, his career charges led him to the Washington Wizards in 2013. It was at the conclusion of that season when Jason can out publicly to the world, saying “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.” He was later featured on the cover of TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People In The

World” in 2014, the year he returned to the NJ Nets (now called the Brooklyn Nets) for his last year before returning for the sport, spanning 13 years in the NBA.

Upon his coming out, he was praised by others in the sport from teammates, rivals, and coaches. However, ESPN basketball analyst Chris Broussard stated that he did not believe that he could live an openly gay lifestyle and be a Christian. Jason replied by saying that it is all about acceptance, and while he doesn’t agree with the statement, people of America are entitled to their own opinions and beliefs. The Guardian, the British newspaper, called it significant for LGBT acceptance because sports have become the final frontier. The Christian Science Monitor believed that his coming out was likely to “put wind in the sails of this trend” to accepting gay rights.

Today, Jason has been in a long-term relationship with Brunson Green, and Academy Award-nominated movie producer. Jason’s coming out was noteworthy and newsworthy (Sports Illustrated had over 3 million hits the day the story broke.) On August 2, 2013, Jason Collins was among the first class of inductees into the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame, along with legendary sports figures Billie Jean King, Greg Louganis, and Martina Navratilova.

In March 2020, Jason tested positive for COVID-19. Fortunately, he recovered, but tweeted a warning to everyone:

I tested positive for COVID19. I believe I got it while on a trip to NYC at the beginning of the month for the Brooklyn Nets Pride game night. …. Please stay safe and continue to social distance. Thank you to every single health care worker out there that are our true heroes on the frontline. Please let’s try to flatten the curve and not overwhelm our health care system.

Jason Paul Collins continues to open doors for future generations. JPC is a name to remember.

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