Jason Collins has spent 12 years in the NBA with a number of teams, most recently the Washington Wizards. However, more important than his contributions on the court is his most recent contribution off of it, as he told Sports Illustrated that he is gay, becoming the first active player in the NBA to do so.

In the Sports Illustrated piece, Collins decided that coming out was the thing to do after the 2011 NBA Lockout, when the distraction of basketball was no longer there to stop him from confronting who he really was.

Jason and his brother Jarron were both members of Stanford's 1998 NCAA Final Four team, and both went on to play in the NBA. Jason has averaged 3.6 points per game and 3.8 rebounds per game as a career reserve, while Jarron averaged 3.9 points and 2.9 rebounds per game in a career that ended after the 2010-2011 season.

It is great that Jason Collins is coming out as an active player, something that many players will not do in fear of what effects that decision could have on their relationships with teammates. Collins is an inspiration to those that want to be who they are without fear of repercussion and what others think and is going to be an instrumental figure in starting the conversation about gay athletes in major men's sports.

We can only hope that Collins is the first of many athletes to take this step.