Los Angeles-bred NBA player Jason Collins today became the first active major-league athlete to come out as gay.

He's 34 and a 12th-season player who's now a free agent: He certainly took his time. Collins wrote a first-person piece about his journey. It comprises the May 6 cover story of Sports Illustrated, but was published online today:

I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston's 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I'm seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy.

Collins grew up in Northridge, played high school ball for Harvard-Westlake, and ended up at Stanford before playing for several franchises in the NBA, including the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards during the last season.

His initial inspiration for coming out came during a period of idle contemplation, during 2011's player lockout. He says he told his aunt he was gay, and she replied that she had known for years.

Collins says he first realization of being gay was when he noticed he was different than his twin brother Jarron:

I had a happy childhood in the suburbs of L.A. My parents instilled in us an appreciation of history, art and, most important, Motown. Jarron and I weren't allowed to listen to rap until we were 12. After our birthday I dashed to Target and bought DJ Quik's album Quik Is the Name. I memorized every line. It was around this time that I began noticing subtle differences between Jarron and me. Our twinness was no longer synchronized. I couldn't identify with his attraction to girls.

The player's coming out was met with congratulations from luminaries across America:

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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