John Amaechi Is First Male Basketball Player To Come Out In US

 John Amaechi
John Amaechi, a former NBA player and England basketball international, is to publish a book next week in which he will reveal he is gay.
The autobiography, entitled Man in the Middle, will detail his six seasons in the world’s leading basketball league and its release is being eagerly awaited in the United States .
The publishers of the book, ESPN, have refused to reveal the identity of the author although it it understood he will appear on their television station and in their magazine next week in advance of the February 20 publication date.
Sources in the United States have confirmed that the 6′ 10″ Amaechi, 36, is the player in question.
Amaechi, born in the United States but raised in Stockport, will be the first prominent British sportsman to make public his homosexuality since the late footballer Justin Fashanu in the late 1980s.
While Amaechi’s announcement will be met with interest in Britain, it is being anticipated feverishly in the United States where no male basketball player has come out as gay before. NBA teams and officials are steeling themselves for Amaechi’s revelations and whether or not he will discuss the sexual orientation of other players.
Initial leaks from the States seem to suggest that his former coach at the Utah Jazz, Jerry Sloan, is the object of Amaechi’s anger in his book and is accused of being homophobic.
“Unbeknownst to me at the time,” Amaechi writes, “Sloan had used some anti-gay innuendo to describe me. It was confirmed via e-mails from friends who worked in high-level front-office jobs with the Jazz.”
The son of an absent Nigerian father, Amachi was raised by his mother, a Stockport doctor, and attended Stockport Grammar School before his basketball talent took him to high school in America. He played at two different colleges, the start of a trend of frequently changing clubs throughout his playing career, and signed for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA after graduation in 1995.
Gay SportsAfter just 28 games, he moved to Europe and played for the French clubs Cholet and Limoges, Bologna in Italy, Greece’s Panathinaikos and the Sheffield Sharks in the British Basketball League, five teams in the next three years.
Amaechi returned to the NBA with the Orlando Magic in 1999-2000 and enjoyed his best season, earning him a $10 million (£5 million), four-year contract.
After one more season in Orlando, Amaechi was traded to the Utah Jazz for two more seasons prior to a spectacular fall from grace which saw him not used at all at the start of the 2003-04 season. There followed trades to the Houston Rockets and New York Knicks but neither club ever played Amaechi and the latter eventually paid up his contract and released him.
Since retiring, Amaechi became well known in Britain for his television appearances and his work with children. He has helped fund the Amaechi Basketball Centre, run by his schoolboy coach Joe Forber, in Whalley Range, Manchester.
Nothing in his playing career will compare with the impact he is about to make with the release of his biography. No male basketball player has come out as gay and only a handful of men in other team sports have done so.
Billy Bean, a small-time American baseball player, created a stir when he published a biography in which he revealed his homosexuality and Esera Tuaolo, an American football player for nine years in the NFL, did likewise in a magazine article in 2002.
High-profile women’s basketball star Sheryl Swoopes did the same last year but, with the NBA known for its machismo and womanising players, no male star has made such a revelation.
from The Times Of London

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