In 2013, just as Jason Collins became a free NBA agent, he decided to go public. He came out as gay in the May 2013 issue of Sports Illustrated in an article written by himself. Today, he says that none of that would have came about had it not been for Democratic presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton.
The former New Jersey Nets center told the crowd at the DNC that he held a private meeting with the Clintons before making his monumental announcement.
“I've known their family for almost 20 years,” said Collins. “I knew that they would accept me for who I was and that they would help pave a path for others to do the same. I am forever grateful for their words of wisdom back then and their unconditional support. They knew that my sexual orientation made no difference in my ability to play basketball, just as someone’s gender makes no difference in his or her ability to lead our nation."
“As both an African American and a member of the LGBT community, the choice for continued progress is clear: This November, we must elect Hillary Clinton as our next president,” he continued. “My dream was to play in the NBA and live my authentic life as a proud gay man at the same time. I was able to accomplish both of those goals because of the people who have supported me throughout my life.”
Watch the full speech below:
If you're wondering how this unlikely meeting even took place, it's actually quite simple. According to Advocate, Collins and Chelsea Clinton have been friends for a long time, having met while freshmen at Stanford University in 1997.
In 2014, one year after becoming a free agent, he became the first publicly gay athlete to play on a national level in the United States. Now retired, Collins has taken a strong stance as an LGBT advocate, notably praising the NBA for moving the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, NC due to its unjust bathroom laws.