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6 pro basketball players who have come out as gay

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In the exciting world of professional basketball, where sneaker squeaks and cheers and jeers fill stadiums, a deafening silence has persisted for too long—the hushed narratives of gay athletes whose livelihoods depend on a predominantly heterosexual industry. Though strength and teamwork are major tenets of professional basketball, fear of criticism and prejudice have kept many players from publicly embracing their authentic selves. 

With many professional athletes in other pro sports leagues coming out, there are very few professional basketball players who have done so. While there is a scarcity of openly gay players on the court, hopefully the ones who have come out will pave the way for a more inclusive, understanding, and compassionate future in the realm of professional basketball and sports at large. Read on for a list of 6 professional basketball players—both NBA and college—who have come out as gay. 

John Amaechi

John Amaechi is the first former NBA player to publicly come out as gay, in 2007 in his memoir, Man in the Middle. Amaechi played college basketball at Vanderbilt and Penn State, and in the NBA for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Orlando Magic, and the Utah Jazz. In 2000, Amaechi turned down a $17 million contract offer from the Los Angeles Lakers when he instead opted to stay with the Orlando Magic, playing for $600,000 per year. After his basketball career ended, Amaechi worked as a psychologist and consultant, and is considered “one of the world’s most high-profile gay athletes.”

Jason Collins

Jason Collins played in the NBA for 13 seasons, on teams including the New Jersey Nets, the Boston Celtics, the Washington Wizards, and Brooklyn Nets. After his 2012-2013 NBA season, Collins publicly came out as gay in the cover story for Sports Illustrated. He became a free agent and then played again in 2014 when he signed with the Brooklyn Nets, thus becoming the first publicly gay athlete to play in any of four major North American pro sports leagues. 

Isaac Humphries 

Isaac Humphries is an Australian pro basketball player who plays for the Adelaide 36ers in the National Basketball League (NBL) in Australia. Humphries was signed to NBA team, the Atlanta Hawks in 2019, and joined the Los Angeles Clippers for the 2019 NBA Summer League. In November 2022, Humphries came out as gay, which made him the only active openly gay male pro basketball player in a top tier league anywhere in the world. 

Derrick Gordon

Though not an NBA player, Derrick Gordon played professional basketball in the NCAA for three universities: Western Kentucky University, University of Massachusetts, and Seton Hall. In 2014, Gordon came out as gay to his family and teammates, making him the first openly gay men’s basketball player in Division I. In an interview about his coming out, Gordon said, “I want other people to look at me and say, ‘OK, damn, he plays for a top school, he’s one of the top players on his team and he’s openly gay.’ That’s one of the main reasons I came out: to be myself.”

Uri Kokia

Uri Kokia is the current head coach for Ironi Ramat Gan of the Liga Artzit in Israel. Before coaching, he was a professional player from 2000 to 2019, and was named the Israeli Basketball Super League Most Improved Player in 2009. In November 2017, Kokia came out publicly as gay, making him the first male professional basketball player in Israel to do so. “I want to show you can make a long and glorious career as a gay man,” he said. “The fear of coming out of the closet is unreal. I want to connect with young people and tell them that you can be different and do what you love.”

Will Sheridan

Will Sheridan is a former college basketball player, having played for the Villanova Wildcats Men’s Basketball program from 2003 to 2007. Sheridan came out as gay to his teammate and roommate, Mike Nardi, in his first year. He also came out to his parents later that same year. While Sheridan’s teammates knew about his sexuality, he wouldn’t come out publicly until 2011 in an interview with ESPN. Sheridan is only the second former Div I male basketball player to publicly come out as gay (with John Amaechi being the first). 

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