Jason Collins
Veteran NBA center Jason Collins has revealed that he is gay in a new story on Sports Illustrated.

Basketball star Jason Collins has made history after becoming the first male athlete in a major U.S. team sport to reveal that he is gay.

The NBA veteran chose Sports Illustrated as the platform to explain his sexuality in an article written in the first person to make the life-changing declaration.

Coming officially out of the closet in a story that will appear in the May 6 issue of the magazine, he said: "I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay."

Collins has been in the NBA for 12 years and played for six different teams, with stints in New Jersey, Minnesota, Atlanta, and Boston. He spent the past season with the Washington Wizards and Boston Celtics.

In the article he reveals that his decision to open up about his sexuality was an attempt to open dialogue in an industry that condemned homosexuality.

"Openness may not completely disarm prejudice, but it's a good place to start. It all comes down to education. I'll sit down with any player who's uneasy about my coming out," he said.

Collins also claims that the 2011 NBA lockout (a strike by professional basketball players over wages) was his main catalyst for him going public.

"When the regular season ends I immediately dedicate myself to getting game ready for the opener of the next campaign in the fall," he said.

"But the lockout wreaked havoc on my habits and forced me to confront who I really am and what I really want. With the season delayed, I trained and worked out. But I lacked the distraction that basketball had always provided."

Collins admitted that he struggled to come clean with even his closest friend and family. Even his twin brother, Jarron Collins, who played 10 seasons in the NBA, never suspected his homosexuality.

"I didn't come out to my brother until last summer... He was downright astounded. He never suspected. So much for twin telepathy. But by dinner that night, he was full of brotherly love," he revealed.

Although Collins is the first active NBA player to admit that he's gay, others in the sport have spoken about their homosexuality.

Former NBA player John Amaechi made headlines in 2007 when he announced that he was gay, once his playing career in the U.S. was over.