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Report: Former NBA Player John Amaechi to Announce He's Gay

Speculation has been rumbling over the past couple of days on several websites that a former NBA player will be coming out of the closet on Valentine's Day.

Amaechi_1This evening I spoke with Howard Bragman, the mystery athlete's publicist. Though he wouldn't confirm the player's identity, Bragman did tell me that the former player has been retired for a few years, had a long career in the NBA "with a number of different teams", and will be coming out of the closet next Tuesday afternoon on ESPN's "Outside the Lines". The athlete has written a book that is being published by ESPN and will be in New York next week doing an aggressive media campaign. According to Bragman, "[the athlete] is an activist for a lot of different causes, and thought it was silly that he wasn't an activist for the LGBT community, so he decided there was no reason for him to stay in the closet. [During his career] he was discreet but not deeply closeted. For people who know him or have covered him it's probably not a shocking revelation."

Just after I spoke with Bragman, Outsports broke the story wide open, naming the athlete whom many had been speculating about, an athlete who matches Bragman's description perfectly — John Amaechi, a former player for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic, and the Utah Jazz. Amaechi, the son of a Nigerian father and English mother, was raised in Britain where he currently works as a consultant and philanthropist. He runs the ABC Foundation, which works to construct sports centers and create mentors and athletic programs for children around England.

Outsports obtained a copy of the book Man in the Middle last week. They report:

He followed his time as a Cavalier with three years playing in Europe, where he dated and had a regular boyfriend for a time in England. He returned to the NBA in 1999 and was celibate until he went to the Jazz. His guaranteed contract with the Jazz set his mind at ease, and it was there that he began venturing out to gay establishments and building a mostly gay circle of friends (the first wide circle of friends of his life, according to the book).

"Those grumpy social conservatives who continue to insist that gay life is lonely and unhappy have obviously never met my friends," Amaechi wrote.

He writes of his first sexual experience in the United States, and how the Utah Jazz and Salt Lake City, controlled by the Latter Day Saints, was an odd backdrop for what felt like his coming out party. He also acknowledges that those in gay clubs like New York's Splash and Los Angeles' Abbey who have claimed in the past to have spotted him there while he was with the Jazz may, in fact, have done so.

"By the end of my second Utah season, I was practically daring reporters to take the bait and out me," he wrote. "But it never happened. My sexuality, I felt, had become an open secret, which was fine by me. I'd left enough open to interpretation that suspicions were gaining momentum."

He'll be the fourth professional athlete to come out of the closet, and the first from the NBA. The world and professional sports will be a better place for it.

We'll look forward to next week when this all goes down.

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Comments

  1. Cool! I don't know who he is or anything about basketball but this is exciting.

    Posted by: Daniel | Feb 6, 2007 8:07:04 PM


  2. Now if we could only get one to come out who is still playing.

    But good for him. It'll be interesting to hear his story.

    Posted by: Marco | Feb 6, 2007 8:07:41 PM


  3. That's great! Sounds like a down-to-earth, intelligent guy.

    Posted by: David | Feb 6, 2007 8:08:45 PM


  4. A good role model for all kids, and a good example of why he had to stay in the closet:

    'He followed his time as a Cavalier with three years playing in Europe, where he dated and had a regular boyfriend for a time in England. He returned to the NBA in 1999 and was celibate until he went to the Jazz. His guaranteed contract with the Jazz set his mind at ease, and it was there that he began venturing out to gay establishments and building a mostly gay circle of friends (the first wide circle of friends of his life, according to the book).
    "Those grumpy social conservatives who continue to insist that gay life is lonely and unhappy have obviously never met my friends," Amaechi wrote.

    Let's hope that door keeps getting a bit more open each tiime another comes out.

    Posted by: patrick nyc | Feb 6, 2007 8:27:14 PM


  5. What is up with his armpits?? ewwww

    Posted by: elgringo | Feb 6, 2007 9:34:04 PM


  6. Elgringo...what you see in his armpits is mainly a shadow...the rest is hair. Get over yourself, queen.

    Posted by: peterparker | Feb 6, 2007 10:05:05 PM


  7. He'll be the fourth professional athlete to come out of the closet.

    Who are the other three?

    Posted by: Mark G | Feb 6, 2007 11:04:18 PM


  8. Ironic that the 1st openly gay player in the NBA came from Penn State, home of course to homo-hater women's coach Rene Porland. John is one of my favorite ex-PSU players, and if my gaydar is right there were a couple of other gay Bballers at PSU in the early 90's.

    Posted by: Jeff | Feb 6, 2007 11:06:09 PM


  9. Mark G: Billy Bean, Esara Tuaolo (sp?), and another NFL player whose name escapes me...

    Posted by: Paul | Feb 6, 2007 11:12:35 PM


  10. “The first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice looking guy.” = gay

    Posted by: M | Feb 6, 2007 11:14:51 PM


  11. Paul, the 4th one you had forgotten was the very first, David Kopay, who wrote his coming out autobiography in 1977, "The David Kopay Story". Coming out myself at about the same time, he was an immense inspiration to me.

    Posted by: GaYToR | Feb 6, 2007 11:49:17 PM


  12. Good for him, but am trying to tamp down my desire that he had come out while he was still playing. Not so sure why that makes a difference, but feels like it does to some degree - fair or unfair, not sure.

    In terms of out players still active in sport - why are there no out gay male tennis players? Or have I missed something/someone? It would seem to me that singles tennis would be a great place to have your cake and eat it too.

    Posted by: hoya86 | Feb 7, 2007 12:08:48 AM


  13. Rock on man! Looking forward to next weeks show.

    Posted by: Giovanni | Feb 7, 2007 12:22:28 AM


  14. I watch a lot of b-ball and can't remember this guy, but I barely remember what I did yesterday. Will be interesting to see how this story gets played out, but let's also not forget that Sheryl Swoopes, a Hall Famer and MVP in the WNBA, came out about a year ago. And she is still playing.

    peace

    Posted by: James | Feb 7, 2007 12:23:58 AM


  15. I'm a sloppy pig bottom..but I'd top John in a minute!

    I can almost feel his hungry, pink whole work me like a butter churn.

    After I finsih in his ass, I'd felch it out and give him a bi-racial kiss.

    VOTE FOR ME FOR GAY MAN OF THE YEAR!

    I'm versatile!

    http://www.genremagazine.com/Genremen/vote.cfm?genreman_id=86

    Posted by: VOTE FOR NEIL! | Feb 7, 2007 12:54:17 AM


  16. Actually, it would have been nice if the story did break on 2-14 instead of now. Good for him but what was the rush?

    Posted by: anon | Feb 7, 2007 3:11:31 AM


  17. More than 4 pro ahtletes have come out of the closet, even if you're only referring to male pro athletes in the U.S.

    Posted by: RJ | Feb 7, 2007 4:29:46 AM


  18. Holy cow! When I began reading the story I did not expect the athlete to be the hottie on the photograph..I hope this is real. I can't wait for the shows.

    Posted by: Da | Feb 7, 2007 5:29:51 AM


  19. sounds like smart and balanced guy. good for him!

    Posted by: chris | Feb 7, 2007 8:27:14 AM


  20. Congratulations Mr. Amaechi!

    Dave Kopay would be the forth but there are a few more former professional athletes who have come out. I don't know why they only claim four and I don't know which four they are referring to.

    The shallowness of some people never fails to amaze me. The first (former) NBA player in history comes out as gay and the only comment someone can think of is to complain about his armpits? The man was a basketball player, not a female impersonator. Sheesh!

    Posted by: Zeke | Feb 7, 2007 8:31:20 AM


  21. Good for him. Too bad we couldn't have gotten his reaction to the Snicker's commercial.

    Posted by: Matt | Feb 7, 2007 8:31:32 AM


  22. See folks. It's much better when someone comes out on their own terms than being outed.

    Posted by: Matt | Feb 7, 2007 8:32:45 AM


  23. But since we're being shallow, I'll add that I think the man looks damn fine, pits and all. :)

    Posted by: Zeke | Feb 7, 2007 8:32:46 AM


  24. Or his opinion on the temperature of the sun.

    Posted by: Zeke | Feb 7, 2007 8:34:22 AM


  25. Zeke,

    Thanks for the morning jab. Here is a few news articles on the sun and it's impact on global warming. And when you read these, remember I said that the variations in the sun are part of global warming. We as a human race have screwed it up too.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/1045327.stm

    http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/1997/11.06/BrighteningSuni.html

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/core/Content/displayPrintable.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/11/05/nwarm05.xml&site=5&page=0

    Posted by: Matt | Feb 7, 2007 8:51:57 AM


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