Thursday, May 2, 2013

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Jason Collins via The Washington Wizards
Sales of #98 Jerseys Surge Since NBA Player Jason Collins Announces He's Gay
WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards announced Wednesday that the team's online store has had a significant surge in sales of jerseys with Jason Collins' number 98 since the NBA player came out publicly as this week.
Wizards spokesman Scott Hall said that although he could not place an actual number of jerseys sold, he verified that that '100 percent' had Collins’ name and number.
In an interview Monday evening with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos Monday evening, Collins reiterated that his choice of the number 98 was not random. He chose to wear it as a tribute to Matthew Shepard, the gay University of Wyoming student who was murdered in 1998 in an anti-gay hate crime.
"When I put on my jersey I was making a statement to myself, my family and my friends," Collins wrote in his Sports Illustrated essay.
Shepard's mother Judy Shepard said Tuesday during an interview with Fox Sports that she was gratified for Collins making that gesture of acknowledgement.
"To hear the story behind his number, well, I cried," said Shepard. "I thought it was such a tribute to Matt, to Matt's story, and to so many other young people who are struggling. His own silent, private tribute, I was very moved. 
For Jason to acknowledge Matt’s story and for him to come out at all at this time in his career and his life is really pretty amazing."
Shepard's father Dennis added;
"In the past, they [gay athlete] had to hide who they are and who they love and this gives them a chance to be themselves and focus on what they should be focused on which is the sport they’re participating in and not focusing half their energy on trying to hide who they are."