CLEVELAND — Derrick Gordon, a UMass guard who Wednesday came out as the first openly gay male college basketball player in Division I, has the full support of former high school teammate Kyrie Irving.
“I’m proud of him,” the Cavaliers guard said prior to a game against the Detroit Pistons at Quicken Loans Arena. “It’s a big step not only in his life, but in his career.”
Irving said he spoke with Gordon on Tuesday, but was unaware the announcement was going to be made Wednesday.
Gordon reportedly told his teammates on April 2, a few days after telling his parents. He said he drew inspiration from gay athletes Jason Collins, a center for the Brooklyn Nets, and Michael Sam, a Missouri football player who is expected to be taken in the NFL Draft.
“It was a rough process, actually, leading up to this,” Gordon told ESPN. “Those guys just helped me get to where I am right now. If it wasn’t for them, I’d be stuck. For this to be happening right now, me coming out, it’s an indescribable feeling, honestly. I couldn’t be any happier. I feel like I can fly.”
Gordon started for UMass last season and averaged 9.4 points and 3.5 rebounds. He posted a picture on Instagram on Wednesday morning with the following comment:
“This is the happiest I have ever been in my 22 Years of living…No more HIDING!!!…Just want to live life happy and play the sport that I love…Really would love to thank my family, friends, coaches, and teammates for supporting me.”
After thanking a number of people from his support team, Gordon went on to post, “Ready to get back in the gym with my teammates and get on the GRIND and get ready for next season!!!! #BETRUE #BEYOURSELF #HONEYBADGER.”
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.