Brooklyn Nets sign Jason Collins for rest of the season

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The NBA veteran became the first openly gay player in an NBA game Feb. 23.

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Copyright 2014 Reuters
Copyright 2014 Reuters

The Brooklyn Nets re-signed Jason Collins for the rest of the season March 15, after two consecutive 10-day contracts. The Nets said it had been their expectation all along that Collins would be with them until the end of the season.

The Brooklyn Nets on Feb. 23 signed Jason Collins to his first 10-day contract, making him the first openly gay professional athlete in North America's four major sports. Collins, 35, played in his first game for the Nets later that day versus the Lakers in Los Angeles. Copyright 2014 Reuters

The Brooklyn Nets on Feb. 23 signed Jason Collins to his first 10-day contract, making him the first openly gay professional athlete in North America's four major sports. Collins, 35, played in his first game for the Nets later that day versus the Lakers in Los Angeles.

"The decision to sign Jason was a basketball decision… We needed to increase our depth inside, and with his experience and size, we felt he was the right choice for a 10-day contract." Billy King, Brooklyn Nets general manager

The Nets released a statement Feb. 23 announcing Collins' initial signing, saying the 12-year NBA veteran "rejoins the Nets after spending the first six and a half seasons of his NBA career with the franchise."

The NBA said on Feb. 25 that its top-selling jersey online was Collins' Nets uniform -- which he will wear for the first time in his second game on Feb. 26. Collins wears the number 98 in memorial of Matthew Shepard, a gay student who was beaten to death in 1998. Source: www.nba.com

The NBA said on Feb. 25 that its top-selling jersey online was Collins' Nets uniform -- which he will wear for the first time in his second game on Feb. 26. Collins wears the number 98 in memorial of Matthew Shepard, a gay student who was beaten to death in 1998.

The NBA said on Feb. 28 that it will donate no less than $100,000 from sales of Collins' jersey to the Matthew Shepard Foundation and the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network. The day before, on Feb. 27, Collins met with Shepard's parents in Denver.

Jason Collins (right) finished the 2012-2013 NBA season with the Washington Wizards. He was a free agent since then and said he wanted to continue playing in the league. Collins came out as gay in May 2013 in <a href="http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/magazine/news/20130429/jason-collins-gay-nba-player/?hpt=hp_c4" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Sports Illustrated</a>, becoming the first male athlete in a major U.S. sport to do so. Copyright 2014 Reuters

Jason Collins (right) finished the 2012-2013 NBA season with the Washington Wizards. He was a free agent since then and said he wanted to continue playing in the league. Collins came out as gay in May 2013 in Sports Illustrated, becoming the first male athlete in a major U.S. sport to do so.

"I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation… If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand." Jason Collins, NBA player

Collins said he started thinking about coming out in 2011. When he told an aunt about his sexuality, she supported him and said she'd known for years.

The first openly gay professional athlete in a US sport was Robbie Rogers, signed by the LA Galaxy in May of 2013. Several WNBA players, including Sheryl Swoopes, who came out in 2005 when she played for the Houston Comets, preceded Collins.

Collins, who played a portion of the 2012-2013 NBA season for the Boston Celtics, said the Boston marathon bombings made him realize that "things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully?" Collins walked in the Boston Pride Parade in June 2013 after coming out. Copyright 2014 Reuters

Collins, who played a portion of the 2012-2013 NBA season for the Boston Celtics, said the Boston marathon bombings made him realize that "things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully?" Collins walked in the Boston Pride Parade in June 2013 after coming out.

"[Collins coming out] was so important to me, knowing that sexuality didn't matter, that the NBA was OK with it." Derrick Gordon, University of Massachusetts sophomore basketball player

On April 9, Gordon announced that he was gay, becoming the first openly gay NCAA Division I men's basketball player to do so. He credited Collins as an influence in his decision. "I'm so proud of [Gordon]," Collins said on Twitter.

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