NBA’s first out gay player Jason Collins retires

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Jason Collins, the NBA’s first openly gay player, has announced his retirement from professional basketball.

The 35-year-old played 22 games with the Brooklyn Nets last season and was not on the roster this season.

He announced his retirement to Sports Illustrated on Wednesday, saying it has been “been 18 exhilarating months” since his decision in April 2013 to come out publicly as gay.

Collins closed the article with this guiding message:

When we get to the point where a gay pro athlete is no longer forced to live in fear that he’ll be shunned by teammates or outed by tabloids, when we get to the point where he plays while his significant other waits in the family room, when we get to the point where he’s not compelled to hide his true self and is able to live an authentic life, then coming out won’t be such a big deal. But we’re not there yet.

Collins started his career with the New Jersey Nets in 2001 and rejoined the franchise in Brooklyn in February.

In the past year, Collins has focussed on LGBT activism in addition to his sports career, spearheading the United Nations ‘Free & Equal’ video campaign, and commemorating murdered gay teenager Matthew Shepard during a match.

Collins was recently named as one of TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people. In March, he signed a contract with the Brooklyn Nets for the remainder of the season.