Though he only signed a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, Jason Collins is making the most of his tenure as the first openly gay player in a major U.S. sport. The NBA announced Friday that it will donate the proceeds from Collins’ jersey sales to the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the Matthew Shepard Foundation. The league will also auction Collins’ autographed, game-worn jerseys to benefit the same organizations.
Since he was added to the roster, Collins’ jersey rose to the No. 1 spot on the top-selling jersey list at NBAStore.com. Collins chose to wear the No. 98 in honor of Matthew Shepard, a college student who was murdered in 1998 after being targeted for being openly gay.
“I’m thrilled to work with the league to support two fantastic organizations, both of which work tirelessly to ensure LGBT youth get the resources and assistance they need to be successful in life,” the Brooklyn Nets center said.
Collins met with Shepard’s parents following the Nets’ 112-89 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night and presented them with an autographed jersey.
Matthew’s mother, Judy Shepard, told the Denver Post Friday night she had been unaware of the NBA’s decision to donate proceeds to the foundation.
The NBA announced that it will donate no less than $100,000 to the organizations, but it should far exceed that goal. Vicky Picca, the NBA’s senior vice president for licensing and business affairs, said that the league was receiving an “unprecedented” amount of inquiries from fans who want to own a jersey with Collins’ name on it.
Multiple reports suggest the Nets will extend Collins’ contract beyond the 10-day period for which he is currently signed, possibly keeping him for the remainder of the season.
GLSEN gave Collins its Courage Award last May.
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