Veteran NBA center Jason Collins told Sports Illustrated that he is gay, becoming the first male athlete in a major U.S. team sport to come out during his career.
"I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation," Collins writes in a story that appears in the May 6 issue of Sports Illustrated.
"I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, 'I'm different,'" he wrote. "If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand."
The 34-year-old Collins, a free agent who played for the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards this season, said he intends to keep playing.
"I still love the game, and I still have something to offer. My coaches and teammates recognize that," he wrote. "At the same time, I want to be genuine and authentic and truthful."
Collins' announcement comes as the NHL and NFL have launched initiatives to fight homophobia in sports. Earlier this month, the NHL and its players association teamed up with an advocacy group that promotes gay rights and strives to foster a welcoming environment for gay athletes. Last week, the NFL said it would promote a "culture of inclusion" for gay players and recruits and other prospective players.
Several current and former NFL players told CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman last month that a current gay NFL player is strongly considering coming out publicly during the offseason.
A handful of pro players have come out after their playing days. John Amaechi retired from the NBA in 2004 and acknowledged in 2007 that he was gay.