John Amaechi, a former player with the Utah Jazz and Orlando Magic, has become the first NBA player to come out as gay.
Amaechi will announce publicly for the first time that he is gay on an episode of ESPN's "Outside The Lines" to air Feb. 11 at 9:30amET, Outsports has learned. His book, "Man In The Middle," published by ESPN Books, in which he chronicles his NBA career and directly addresses the travails of being a closeted professional athlete, will be released Feb. 14.
Amaechi's sexuality has been rumored for years. In an April 2001 column for Outsports, NBA columnist Randy Boyd named Amaechi, then playing with the Orlando Magic, as No. 16 among those in the NBA most likely to be gay.
So I guess I am a little behind on this story. I had seen this on Outsports a few days ago and wanted to post about it, but never got around to it. I really think what John did was great. This is an inspiration to many young athletes who are playing at the high school and college level. I remember talking to a D-1 college basketball player a few years ago while I was still in college. I was in a chatroom and we started talking. We got a lot great online and quickly became IM friends. After talking for a week about sports, guys and experiences he told me that he was a basketball player at a school near me. I thought it was pretty cool that he would talk to me about that.
We kept chatting and he ended up sending me a picture of himself. A really good looking guy. I was 21 at the time, he was just 18. Later on that week, I was sitting with my roommates watching a basketball game on ESPN. It was close to the end of the half and sure enough who do I see come on to the court… the guy I had been talking to. I kept my mouth shut. Did not say a word.
Later on that night he signed on and said hi. I said, “how could you miss an easy free throw like that” joking around. He flipped out. He realized that I had recognized him and he signed off. Looking back on it, I shouldn’t have been so playful knowing that he was VERY closeted. I wrote an email to him that night. Saying that I did not mean to offend him, but wanted to let him know that I would never OUT him to anyone and that I was sorry for playing around like that.
2 weeks later he IMs me and tells me it’s cool. That he freaked out and that he is sorry. He is now a senior and I see him playing on TV regularly. He had a girlfriend up until a few months ago. They broke up. He IMed me a few weeks ago to catch up and see what I was up to. I told him about the blog, told him about work and all that stuff. He’s reading this entry right now thinking to himself, “That fucker, posted about me”
Back to John Amaechi… I pre-ordered his book. I’m excited to read it. I really enjoy the site Outsports. It is always a good read.