Jason Collins Jason Collins

Jason Collins, the NBA's first openly gay player, has announced he's retiring from the league.

"It feels wonderful to have been part of these milestones for sports and for gay rights, and to have been embraced by the public, the coaches, the players, the league and history," Collins wrote in a column for Sports Illustrated. "The most poignant moment came at my third game, in Denver, where I met the family of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student beaten to death in a 1998 hate crime on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyo. For the past two years I have worn number 98 on my jersey to honor his memory. I was humbled to learn that number 98 jerseys became the top seller at NBAStore.com. Proceeds from sales, and from auctioned jerseys I wore in games, were donated to two gay-rights charities."

Collins, 35, came out as gay in a Sports Illustrated cover story in May 2013.

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Collins will retire as a member of the Brooklyn Nets, and will make his retirement official Wednesday night during the team's game against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Barclays Center. He began his NBA career in 2001 as a member of the then-New Jersey Nets.

"The day will be especially meaningful for me because the Nets will be playing the Bucks, who are coached by Jason Kidd, my former teammate and my coach in Brooklyn," Collins wrote. "It was Jason who cheered my decision to come out by posting on Twitter: 'Jason's sexuality doesn't change the fact that he is a great friend and was a great teammate.' Considering all the speculation about problems I might face within the locker room, Jason's support was significant."

Added Collins: "There are still no publicly gay players in the NFL, NHL or Major League Baseball. Believe me: They exist. Every pro sport has them. I know some of them personally. When we get to the point where a gay pro athlete is no longer forced to live in fear that he'll be shunned by teammates or outed by tabloids, when we get to the point where he plays while his significant other waits in the family room, when we get to the point where he's not compelled to hide his true self and is able to live an authentic life, then coming out won't be such a big deal. But we're not there yet."

What do you think of Collins' comments?

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