Former NBA basketball player John Amaechi has become a patron of LGBT History Month.

Amaechi, who retired in 2003, came out in 2007 in his autobiography Man in the Middle and has since carved out a career as a psychologist and motivational speaker.

He will join gay Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas as a patron to LGBT History Month, which encourages schools to celebrate LGBT individuals and make pupils aware of their contributions to society.

The project is focusing on sport during the run-up to London hosting the 2012 Olympic Games.

Amaechi said: “It gives me great pleasure to join LGBT History Month as a patron. Throughout my youth and to this day, I have seen the power of visible people in our society acting as role models.

“I hope by joining with LGBT History Month, I will be able to play a small part in providing a more diverse pool of visible role models to all young people within and outside the LGBT community.”

Gay education charity Schools Out, which runs LGBT History Month, said it was “honoured” and commended Amaechi’s work since retiring from basketball.

Co-chair Sue Sanders said: “John Amaechi is a living legend. His sporting achievements alone are awe-inspiring, but his work since retiring from basketball puts him in a league of his own.

“Self esteem is a huge issue in the LGBT community and John’s expertise as a psychologist will give us a unique professional insight into LGBT issues in sport.

“We’re honoured to welcome him on board as a patron and look forward to working with such a wonderful ambassador.”