Veteran NBA center Jason Collins came out last year as the first openly gay player in any professional American sport. For this display of courage and individuality, Collins has been placed on TIME magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” list.
TIME revealed its annual list this week, with Collins in the “Pioneers” section among the likes of outspoken Seattle Seahawks star Richard Sherman, stem-cell researcher Robert Lanza and SEC chairwoman Mary Jo White. Collins’ testimonial was written by Chelsea Clinton, who said she met the Brooklyn Nets center in their first year at Stanford.
Collins not only made the list for coming out, but also because he is known for his kindness to his family, friends, and the fans. Collins said his life has gotten a lot better after being accepted for who he is.
Clinton summed it up beautifully in her testimonial:
“Jason’s kindness and fierceness alike derive from that word too often bandied about and too rarely true: integrity,” Clinton wrote in TIME. “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.”