Melbourne United basketball player Isaac Humphries is the only active openly gay player in a top-tier men’s basketball league. He publicly shared he is gay in a video published Wednesday morning Australian time, and he joins former NBA player Jason Collins — who announced his sexuality in 2013 — as the only players in a top-tier basketball league to announce they are gay in the midst of their playing career.
Humphries, who spent two seasons at Kentucky, played five games with the Atlanta Hawks in 2019 and joined the Los Angeles Clippers for the 2019 NBA Summer League. The 24-year-old big man has spent the last few years playing in Australia, his native country. He signed with Melbourne United in July after two seasons with the Adelaide 36ers. Now that he is with a new team, Humphries thought it was a good time to get a fresh start.
“Look, this is probably going to be one of the hardest conversations I’ve probably ever had in my life, but life is about doing hard things and learning from them, and making a difference through those hard times,” Humphries said as his whole team sat in front of him.
“A few years ago, I fell into a very dark place, a very lonely place. I couldn’t be who I am and I attempted to take my life. And the main reason behind me becoming so low and being in that point is because I was very much struggling with my sexuality and coming to terms with the fact that I’m gay.”
Melbourne United’s Chief Executive Officer Nick Truelson said the organization was proud of Humphires’ courage.
“Today is an incredible step in Isaac’s journey, and we as a club are wholeheartedly supportive of him,” Truelson said in a statement. “Not only as a member of our club, but as a person. This is a momentous occasion for him personally, but also for male sport on a global scale.”
Humphries said he was initially “disgusted” with himself because he didn’t feel he could be “that person” within the basketball environment. Now, he has decided he doesn’t want to hide anymore. He said that as an athlete, he needs to set an example to others, which means showing people that it’s ok to be yourself.
“The truth is, there are so many people in other worlds that are struggling every single day and don’t know how to get up, don’t know how to exist,” he said. “I know how that feels, and I want to represent those people. That’s my goal behind this, make sure people know that you can be whatever you want, no matter who you are or what you do.”
Collins announced he is gay in April 2013, shortly after the NBA season ended, and he became the first openly gay player to appear in a top-tier basketball league in February 2014 as a member of the Nets. Collins ended up playing 22 games with the Nets and retiring in late 2014.