Trailblazer Jason Collins, first openly gay NBA player, retires

Wed Nov 19, 2014 11:28am EST
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By Steve Ginsburg

(Reuters) - Jason Collins, the first openly gay player in the four major North American team sports, announced his retirement from the National Basketball Association on Wednesday.

Collins, 35, announced he was gay at the end of the 2012–13 season and did not play again until Feb. 23, 2014, when he signed with the Brooklyn Nets.

"In order to understand why I am so lucky to be sitting here today as a person who is finally comfortable in his own skin, you need to understand how basketball saved me," he said in a column on

"I needed to live the past few years as an openly gay basketball player in order to be at peace retiring today."

Collins will officially announce his retirement at the Barclays Center before the Nets host the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.

The Bucks are coached by Jason Kidd, a former teammate and his coach in Brooklyn.

"It feels wonderful to have been part of these milestones for sports and for gay rights, and to have been embraced by the public, the coaches, the players, the league and history," Collins told

Collins, a 7-foot defensive specialist, played for six teams during his 13-year NBA career, averaging 3.6 points and 3.7 rebounds a game. He did not play this season.   Continued...

February 23, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Brooklyn Nets newly signed player Jason Collins practices before playing against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports