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Retired NBA player Rick Fox calls Jason Collins and Michael Sam 'brave men'

Says gays have to 'demand' respect in locker rooms: 'I think you have to just demand equality in general'
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Photo by Glenn Francis

Retired NBA player Rick Fox considers Jason Collins and Michael Fox, the first openly gay players in the NBA and NFL, respectively, to be 'brave men.'

Fox, 44, is a television commentator and actor who played on three NBA championship teams and was once married to actress and singer Vanessa Williams.

'... The acceptance of (gay players) will grow with time,' Fox said this week on Larry King Now.

Of Collins and Sam, he described them as 'brave men for stepping out and being a voice and standing for their own.., first standing for themselves, and being role models for other gay men and women who are in the workplace and want to be expressed. So the acceptance now and the growth comes from their teammates and the league.'

As far as some players expressing unease about having an openly gay player in the locker room Fox said: 'I think you have to demand (respect). I think you have to just demand equality in general.'

Fox says he didn't know any gay players during an NBA career that spanned from 1991 through 2004 during which time he played for the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics.

But Fox has since learned a lot about gays and lesbians outside his sport.

'I just know as I’ve evolved as an actor and being around Hollywood and working with gay men and women, the understanding of just the community itself, gave me insight into how difficult its been for gay men and women to live and how covered they've lived for so many years.'

'So I just look at them and think its been, there has to have been gay men and women who haven’t felt safe enough to express themselves (in pro sports).'

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