FILE - In a Wednesday, April 17, 2013 file photo, Washington Wizards center Jason Collins, right, battles for a rebound against Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago. NBA veteran center Collins has become the first male professional athlete in the major four American sports leagues to come out as gay. Collins wrote a first-person account posted Monday, April 29, 2013 on Sports Illustrated's website. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File) (The Associated Press)
FILE - In this Jan. 30, 2013, file photo, Boston Celtics center Jason Collins, right, struggles for control of the ball with Sacramento Kings forward Chuck Hayes (42) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Boston. ESPN says that it regrets the "distraction" caused by one of its reporters who described Jason Collins as a sinner after the NBA center publicly revealed that he was gay. Chris Broussard, who covers the NBA for ESPN, had said on the air that Collins and others in the NBA who engage in premarital sex or adultery were "walking in open rebellion to God, and to Jesus Christ." (AP/Elise Amendola, File)
FILE - In a Friday, Sept. 28, 2012 file photo, Boston Celtics' Jason Collins poses during Celtics NBA basketball media day at the team's training facility in Waltham, Mass. NBA veteran center Collins has become the first male professional athlete in the major four American sports leagues to come out as gay. Collins wrote a first-person account posted Monday, April 29, 2013 on Sports Illustrated's website. He finished this past season with the Washington Wizards and is now a free agent. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File) (The Associated Press)
ATLANTA – Jason Collins played with the Atlanta Hawks for three seasons.
His former teammates and coach never suspected he was gay. But they welcomed his courage in becoming the first athlete in one of the major North American leagues to reveal his homosexuality while still active.
Hawks coach Larry Drew says he's "very, very proud of Jason." And forward Josh Smith says Collins' decision has made it easier for others to be honest about their sexuality in public.
Collins joined the Hawks in 2009 and didn't play much — just 103 games over his three years with the team. His most memorable contribution came in the 2011 playoffs, when the 7-footer started every game against Orlando and continually frustrated Dwight Howard. The Hawks upset the Magic in six games.