Basketball star Isaac Humphries makes history by coming out as gay: ‘I want to do my part’

Isaac Humphries

Australian basketball star Isaac Humphries has come out as gay, but said homophobia made his journey “harder than it should’ve been”.

Humphries, 24, formerly played for the NBA team Atlanta Hawks, and now plays for Melbourne United in Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL). He is the first NBL player to come out as gay.

In a moving personal piece for CNN published on Tuesday (15 November), he explained: “There was no reality that existed where I could be an openly gay man while playing basketball. Until now.”

“My journey to get to this point in my life was harder than it should’ve been, but I wouldn’t change it for the world,” Humphries continued.

“Without those dark points, I wouldn’t have been thrust into situations where I had to explore, discover and learn to accept who I really am.

“If there are negative aspects that come with my decision to come out, I’ll take those barbs so others don’t have to; as long as it means we make progress along the way and kids in particular feel they can be whoever they want.”

Isaac Humphries

Humphries said his depression became so bad he My depression got so bad ‘not making it to retirement became a very real possibility’. (Getty Images)

Humphries revealed that while he was in the closet, he became severely depressed, and even tried to end his own life.

He said that throughout his career, being an athlete at such a high level was “about making money, dating girls and being the best basketball player you can be”.

He “fell in line” with those around him, “no matter how awkward and weird I felt doing it”, and decided that he would not be able to be his true self until retirement.

But, he continued: “My depression got so bad that the idea of not making it to retirement became a very real possibility.

“There was a night toward the end of 2020 where my loneliness, self-hate and shame finally took its toll, and I decided it would hurt less to take my own life.

“I had, unfortunately, decided it was the end. It was only when I woke up the next morning when I realised that I hadn’t done it.”

That same year, he suffered a “life-changing injury”, and went to Los Angeles to undergo rehab. While there, he had his “first-ever experience seeing members of the LGBTQ+ community in a positive light”.

“I was around some of the most successful people in the world – everyone from musicians, television and film producers, media personalities, A-list celebrities – and got to see that being openly gay can come with joy,” he said.

“For the first time in my life, I saw that people at the top of their game can be open and honest about who they are, and that came with a visceral and contagious happiness.”

Humphries described his coming out as a journey of “liberation”, and added: “I know what it feels like to grow up in an environment that doesn’t feel welcoming, and I want to do my part to make sure basketball is no longer one of them.”

‘I am now happy with who I am’

On the same day that his CNN op-ed was published, Isaac Humphries shared a video on social media showing his emotions coming out to his teammates.

Sitting in the locker room, he told them: “It is a truth about myself that I have wanted to deny for a long time, but now I feel comfortable in telling you all. That truth is that I am gay.

“I have been through extremely dark times during this journey, but I have been through so much growth and I am now happy with who I am.”

Humphries was met with a round of applause and hugs from his teammates at the end of the moving video.

According to CBC, Australian organisation Pride in Sport celebrates Humphries “addressing his challenges in continuing to play the game not being his true self, but also the relief and joy he feels for doing so and being able to be a role model for younger athletes”.

Suicide is preventable. Readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans on 116 123 (, or Mind on 0300 123 3393 ( ​

Readers in the US are encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255.