Jason Collins Sports Illustrated“I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”

This is how Jason Collins announced to the world that he was the first active athlete in the four major American sports to come out as gay.

The powerful story graces the cover of the May 6th, 2013 edition of Sports Illustrated.

But did you know that Collins did not write that line?

It was written by Franz Lidz, the writer who supported Collins in the piece.

“That was me,” he said. “I was trying to condense the story in three lines. I think this story should tell itself right at the beginning.”

The story behind the story was covered by Deadspin in a must read article on how this became a reality on the cover of S.  Including how SI sent someone to edit the story in case it leaked via social media and had to publish it immediately.

The reaction to Collins’ story has been tremendously positive – from President Obama’s statement that he “couldn’t be prouder” to fellow players in the NBA.

One of my favorite parts of the article, that has flown under the radar, was Collins humorous message to Shaquille O’Neal:

“I’m not afraid to take on any opponent. I love playing against the best. Though Shaquille O’Neal is a Hall of Famer, I never shirked from the challenge of trying to frustrate the heck out of him. (Note to Shaq: My flopping has nothing to do with being gay.) My mouthpiece is in, and my wrists are taped. Go ahead, take a swing — I’ll get up. I hate to say it, and I’m not proud of it, but I once fouled a player so hard that he had to leave the arena on a stretcher.”

Here are some other highlights from the article – on his twin brother’s reaction to the news –

“I didn’t come out to my brother until last summer. His reaction to my breakfast revelation was radically different from Aunt Teri’s. He was downright astounded. He never suspected. So much for twin telepathy. But by dinner that night, he was full of brotherly love. For the first time in our lives, he wanted to step in and protect me.”

His final paragraph:

“Some people insist they’ve never met a gay person. But Three Degrees of Jason Collins dictates that no NBA player can claim that anymore. Pro basketball is a family. And pretty much every family I know has a brother, sister or cousin who’s gay. In the brotherhood of the NBA, I just happen to be the one who’s out.”

This was our favorite reaction to Collins’ announcement from Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Penner

We applaud Jason Collins’ decision to come out and can’t imagine the courage it took to do so.