This am image with a picture of Jason Collins and John Ameachi. Both players are behind the words: Gay NBA Players

The Only 3 Out, Gay NBA Players In History

While there may be closeted gay nba players, there have only been three openly gay players. Jason Collins became the first active player to come out in 2013. John Amaechi came out in 2007 though he had retired from the NBA in 2003. Isaac Humphries came out in 2022 while playing in Australia’s NBL. Before playing in Australia, he played 5 games in the NBA.

Jason Collins

Jason Collins played thirteen seasons in the NBA. He is the first, and only player so far, to come out publicly while still playing in the NBA.


Collins was a nearly 7-foot center who played college basketball at Stanford alongside his twin brother Jarron. 

He was chosen 18th overall in the 2001 NBA Draft. Collins started his career playing for the New Jersey Nets. He played fairly well for the Nets in his early years.

He was known for good, smart, physical defensive play. Collins also had a reputation for being a good teammate and leader. 

Jason Collins was never much of an offensive player and that did not change much throughout his career. 

He increased his minutes each of his first four seasons and became a starter for the team in his second year. He would continue to be a starter for the Nets through his sixth season.

Before the 2004-2005 season, Collins signed a 5-year $25million deal with the Nets, who were convinced his first three increasingly-strong seasons were signs of better things to come. 

While Collins did continue to start for the Nets those next three years, he never became the force Nets fans and management had hoped. 

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For his total Nets career, Collins averaged 24 minutes per game while scoring 4.3 points per game and grabbing 4.4 rebounds. 

In 2007-2008, the Nets franchise realized Collins was what he was: a journeyman NBA center. They shipped him to Memphis to start him on the journey every journeyman takes.

Collins played one year each in Memphis and Minnesota before a three-year stint for the Atlanta Hawks. 

In the 2012-2013 season, the Hawks shipped him off to Boston who moved him onto Washington, his third team of the season.

Collins was almost done. He made one last appearance for the now-Brooklyn Nets, signing in February of 2014 and lasting 22 games while scoring only 1 point per game. 

Before signing with the Nets, Collins made a bit of news.

Coming Out

Jason Collins had been in a long-term relationship with fellow Stanford professional basketball player Carolyn Moos. They dated for many years and got engaged in 2009. 

Collins broke off that engagement. He called Carolyn years later to tell her he was gay. The magazine article that announced that to the world came out just a few days later. 

Collins wrote his own coming out story along with journalist Franz Lidz for the May 6, 2013 issue of Sports Illustrated. 

The magazine came out in between his second to last and last seasons. The online version came out a few days before the printed magazine.

The article began “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.” 

Sports Illustrated’s website set a record for visitors on the day it was released.

This is a picture of gay NBA player Jason Collins in a New Jersey Nets warm up jersey.

Image credit: Keith Allison FlickrJason Collins 15 March 2014, 18:00:22

Public reaction was overwhelmingly supportive. Kobe Bryant was among the NBA players who expressed support. 

Various groups and influential Americans joined in offering support including Presidents Obama and Clinton, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Collins’ sponsors at Nike.

There was some limited, negative public reaction. One ESPN commentator, Chris Broussard, expressed both his admiration for Collins’ bravery and his belief that Collins could not be both gay and christian.

Collins, who is a christain, expressed his disagreement. Broussard caught flak for his statements, and ESPN quickly put out a statement distancing themselves from his comments. 

Tennis great Martina Navratilova, who had somewhat unbelievably come out in 1981, praised Collins and expressed her hope that this would help end homophobia in team sports and lead to more players coming out.

This is a picture of tennis player Martina Navratilova playing a point with the racket in her left hand.

That was not to be. As of the writing of this article, Collins is the last gay NBA player to come out. NFL star Carl Nassib of the Las Vegas Raiders came out in June of 2021. But no NBA players have followed Collins’ example.

Collins became the first, and still only, active gay NBA player when he signed with the Broolyn Nets in February of 2014. Nets coach Jason Kidd, who had played with Collins and was friendly with him, was a big supporter of signing Collins. 

That historic signing came with great fanfare, but Collins only played about 8 minutes per game for the team before ending his career at the end of 2014. 

Jon Amaechi

John Amaechi was the first gay NBA player to come out, but he did so after he had retired from the league. 


Amaechi was raised in England and did not begin playing basketball until he was 17. But at 6’10”, the sport made sense for him and he began playing.

Amaechi moved to the U.S. to play high school ball for one year. He got a scholarship to play first at Vanderbilt and then at Penn State. 

Amaechi played well for Penn State but was undrafted. He got signed by the Cleveland Cavaliers and actually started his first-ever NBA game due to an injury to the Cavs starting center. 

He only played 28 games that season and went back to Europe to play for three seasons in France, Greece and Italy.

Ameachi  played well enough in Europe that he got another shot at the NBA. In his first season back, he scored 10 points per game in only 20 minutes a night for the Orlando Magic. 

Ameachi got an offer to sign a 6 year $17 million deal with the Lakers, but rejected it to stay with the Magic. 

Unfortunately for him, that one season was his NBA peak. Amaechi played one more year with Orlando and two more in Utah before his career ended at age 32.

Coming Out 

In February of 2007, Amaechi did an interview with the ESPN show Outside the Lines to discuss his book Man in the Middle. In the book and the interview, Amaechi came out as a gay man. 

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The difference in reaction between Ameachi’s and Collins’ statements is a sign of the growth in acceptance of gay people between 2007 and 2013. 

There were many positive reactions to Ameachi’s announcement. 

Charles Barkley and Grant Hill were among players expressing support. Barkley said he was sure he had played both with and against gay players and it should not be viewed as a big deal.

Other NBA players were tepid if not outright negative. Lebron James said “With teammates you have to be trustworthy, and if you’re gay and you’re not admitting that you are, then you are not trustworthy”. 

Others were crass with Shavlik Randolph saying “As long as you don’t bring your gayness on me I’m fine”. 

The strongest reaction came from Tim Hardaway who said:  “Well, you know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don’t like gay people, and I don’t like to be around gay people.” Yikes.

Hardaway faced a strong negative reaction.  He actually went into counseling and became the 1st person to sign his name to a 2013 petition to legalize gay marriage in Florida. 

Hardaway believes the backlash hurt his Hall of Fame chances. 

Ameachi, who was an Academic All American in college, has pursued a variety of interests in retirement. He did some media work, pursued advanced graduate studies in psychology, and has worked in consulting and public speaking. 

Isaac Humphries

Isaac Humphries became the only openly gay player in a top tier men’s league after coming out in 2022.


Humprhies grew up in Australia and briefly lived in Canada as a child. He returned to Australia after a big growth spurt. After succeeding in Australian youth basketball, Humphries enrolled in a U.S. prep school.

After prep school, Humprhies enrolled at the University of Kentucky. At UK he had limited success, averaging just 3 points and 3 rebounds per game in his sophomore season.

Despite limited college numbers, the 6’11 center declared for the 2017 draft but went undrafted. Humprhies returned to Australia to pursue his professional basketball career.

He had some success in the Australian National Basketball League, winning rookie of the year. His NBL success led to summer league tryouts with NBA franchises and in 2019 Humphries signed with the Atlanta Hawks. Isaac Humphries would play his only five games in the NBA for Atlanta.

After his brief stint in the NBA, Humprhies returned to the NBL, where he continues to play.

Coming Out

On November 16, 2022 Isaac Humphries became the third former NBA player to come out as gay. He is the only one of the three who is currently active, though he plays now in Australian NBL not the NBA.

Humphries said being closeted was difficult for him and that he contemplated suicide. He decided his life would be easier if came out to his teammates, so he did.

Humprhies is the only male player in a top tier league in the world who is currently playing and openly gay.

Are There Closeted Gay NBA Players? 

Surveys show that 5.6% of the U.S. population identify as LGBT. While the percentage of people who are gay varies with different measures, there is no reputable measure saying the number is zero.

But zero is the number of openly gay players in the NBA since Jason Collins retirement in 2013. 

Given the fact that some percentage of the population from 3.5% to 5.6% identify as gay (or trans), it seems insanely unlikely that there are no gay NBA players.

What is likely is that there are many, or at least some, closeted players. 

The reasons for that are clear to me. First, take the reactions of the players quoted in this ESPN article in 2007. 

These players knew they were speaking to reporters! What do they say behind closed doors? 

Not all of them were bad. Grant Hill, Charles Barkley and others made statements of support. 

But with players willing to be so negative publicly, it is likely they are willing to be even more negative privately. This is the world gay players face every day. 

Hopefully it has progressed mightily since 2007. But players in the locker rooms every day know what the reaction is likely to be to a player coming out. 

The fact that none have probably indicates that players believe the reaction would still be negative. 

In a recent interview, Jason Collins acknowledges that it is likely many gay players are afraid. He says that he is working to help them get through that fear and hopes more players will follow his lead. 

Until they do, Jason Collins will be the only active NBA player to come out as a gay man.

Summary: Gay NBA Players

There have only been three openly gay NBA players. John Amjaechi came out first in 2007. He had retired in 2003 but published a book and did interviews four years later discussing his sexuality. Jason Collins came out in 2013 and went on to play the next season becoming the first and only openly gay active player in NBA history. Isaac Humphries played only five games in the NBA but came out in 2022 while still playing for the Australian NBL.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Adapted from: Keith Allison FlickrJason Collins 15 March 2014, 18:00:22 & John Amaechi OBE.jpg AmaechiPerformance

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