Jarron Collins didn't know that his twin brother, Jason, was gay until a conversation late last summer.
"I won't lie. I had no idea," Jarron wrote, recalling the day that Jason came out to him, in his own first-person piece in SI released to coincide with his brother's landmark announcement on Monday. "We talked, he answered my questions, I hugged him and I digested what he had told me. At the end of the day, this is what matters: He's my brother, he's a great guy, and I want him to be happy. I'll love him and I'll support him and, if necessary, I'll protect him."
A day after his brother appeared on "Good Morning America" and "Inside The NBA" on TNT as well as spoke to Bill Simmons of ESPN, Jarron joined ESPN's "Outside The Lines" on Wednesday to speak with Bob Ley. Jarron, who last appeared in the NBA during the 2010-2011 season, reflected on Jason's announcement on Monday, the conversation when his brother came out to him this past summer and the willingness of the NBA to accept the first active gay athlete in major U.S. team sports.
"I think it speaks to not just the NBA but our society as a whole where we've taken big steps forward in openness and being supportive of our fellow individuals and our fellow human beings. I think there was the incident with the DB from the San Francisco 49ers where he made some comments that were a little out of line -- or, actually, I would say a lot out of line -- and you saw society as whole jump on him to try to educate him. That right there was a little barometer of where we are as a society," Jarron said. "I know with the NBA lockeroom, it's a brotherhood. And I know that my brother in particular has played on multiple teams. I've played on multiple teams. We've had numerous coaches, teammates, executives, a couple of owners have reached out and been very supportive. And the league -- David Stern, everybody as a whole -- has been very, very supportive and just saying, 'Hey, Jason, we recognize you. We see you. Let's move forward. It's cool. We accept you as a whole.' And they're recognizing the strength and leadership that he displayed in stepping forward and being the first."
The Collins brothers won state basketball championships playing together at Harvard-Westlake High School in Southern California before heading north to Stanford together. In Palo Alto, the brothers helped the Cardinal make four trips to the NCAA Tournament, including runs to the Final Four (1998) and Elite Eight (2001). Both were drafted into the NBA in 2001 and have logged more than 1,200 games between them.
"The story is what it is. It's my brother is gay," Jarron told Ley. "It doesn't define him as a person. It's just part of who he is. His character, his hardwork, his intensity on the basketball court ... this is just another facet of who he is as a person, as a human being."
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