I met up with former NBA player John Amaechi at U.C. Berkeley where he was on a panel about homophobia in sports. John is a big guy, funny and very intelligent. When talking with him you actually feel like you are talking to a professor because he is very wise and articulate.
In a groundbreaking revelation that reverberated around the NBA in 2006, former player John Amaechi became the first professional basketball player to openly identify himself as gay.
Amaechi, who played at Penn State and spent five seasons in the NBA with Orlando, Utah and Cleveland, came out in his book entitled "Man in the Middle" that was published by ESPN Books (owned by the Walt Disney Company, parent company of ESPN).
Martina Navratilova, perhaps the most famous openly gay athlete in the world, praised Amaechi's decision and said it's imperative for athletes to come out because of what she called an epidemic of suicides among young lesbians and gays.
Amaechi, a 6-foot-10 center, averaged 6.2 points and 2.6 rebounds before retiring from the league in 2003 after his contract was traded from Houston to New York. He never played for the Rockets or Knicks.
He is currently known in Britain as a television personality and for helping fund the Amaechi Basketball Center in Manchester England.
Thanks John for the interview and I am looking forward to seeing you again.
Note: Also see my other interview with former gay ABA player Demarco Majors.
Below, see my 2007 Keeping It Real Online TV interview with John Amaechi.