Openly gay NBA star Jason Collins has been featured as one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, a year after coming out.
Collins, who came out as gay last April, signed a 10-day deal late last month with the Brooklyn Nets, becoming the first active, openly-gay player in one of the four major league professional sports in the US. He has since signed with the team for the remainder of the season.
In an April 2013 interview with Sports Illustrated, Collins came out, saying: “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”
Collins was this week announced by TIME under the ‘Pioneers’ section of the list.
Chelsea Clinton wrote the testimonial for the basketball star. The former first daughter who met Collins in her first year of college at Stanford.
“Not surprisingly, the first thing I noticed was his height,” writes Clinton of the 7-foot tall star.
“The second thing I noticed was his kindness off the court — and his fierceness on it. Kindness to his friends, his family and fans. Fierceness in his drive to win. Jason has always been focused on others, on what’s right for those he loves, and on helping those whose jersey is the same as his.”
Clinton continued: “Jason’s kindness and fierceness alike derive from that word too often bandied about and too rarely true: integrity… Jason has always maintained he’s first a basketball player. He is. But he’s also a leader and an inspiration. For Michael Sam, Derrick Gordon and others whose names we may never know. And also for those of us lucky enough to be fans — or to call him our friend.”
Former first lady Hillary Clinton was also featured in the list.
Following his decision to wear the number 98 shirt for his new team in commemoration of murdered gay teenager Matthew Shepard, the item soared to the top of online sales on the NBA’s online store earlier this month.