Jason Collins, the NBA’s first openly gay player, chose 98 as his Brooklyn Nets jersey number in honour of Matthew Shepard, who was brutally killed in a 1989 hate crime.
Last night, Feb 27, Matthew’s parents, gay rights advocates Judy and Dennis Shepard, drove four hours from Casper, Wyoming, to Denver to see Collins play.
“I was in college at the time when [Matthew] was killed,” Collins said before the meeting. “Of course it’s a tragedy what happened, and I just hope it inspires others to come forward. It’s definitely going to be special meeting them after the game and I’m looking forward to it.”
Collins’s emblematic jersey is selling in unprecedented numbers on the NBA website. Of the record sales the player told the NY Daily News, “I’m always encouraging others to live their life and speak up and come forward if you want to, and know that if you do there’s a lot of people waiting to support you.”