Jason Collins Meets Matthew Shepard's Family, Poses w/ No. 98 Jersey In His Honor
We previously reported that Jason Collins would be sporting the No. 98 jersey while competing for the Brooklyn Nets in honor of Matthew Shepard.
He posed with the jersey alongside Shepard's family on Thursday following the Nets' 112-89 victory over the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.
— Jason Collins (@jasoncollins34) February 28, 2014
The player gave Dennis and Judy Shepard an autographed, No. 98 black and white jersey, and laughter could be heard throughout the 10-minute meeting.
Collins, who became the first active openly gay player in NBA history Sunday after signing a 10-day contract with the Nets, wears No. 98 in honor of Shepard, who was beaten, tortured and murdered in a 1998 anti-gay hate crime in Wyoming.
"It was great," said Judy Shepard, who had spoken with Collins by phone last year after Collins announced he was gay and wore No. 98 because of her son. "It was all great. He's very kind, smart, humble. It was delightful. We were happy to finally have the opportunity to meet."
She said receiving his jersey was "cool. It was very sweet, very genuine and very thoughtful."
"I did not want to give them a sweaty jersey," Collins said with a laugh when asked whether it was game-worn. "This is a backup."
The Shepards drove up from Casper, Wyo., to attend the game and meet with Collins, who previously said the opportunity was "one of those cool treats in life."
We love this story. Pure class.
On Monday Dennis Shepard told ESPN, regarding Collins:
"Jason helps those kids go ahead and live their lives to the fullest, and take their talent in academics, in sports, wherever it can take them," Shepard told ESPNNewYork.com's Ian O'Connor on Monday. "Some kids are still living hidden lives, living in fear, and the more you see Jason and Michael Sam and others encouraging them to be themselves, they'll understand they can get to the top of whatever ladder they're climbing."
Keep doing what you're doing, guys!