Derrick Gordon’s 17 points and two free throws with under 20 seconds to play helped UMass defeat Siena 95-87 on Friday night, but his impact moving forward may go well beyond the box score.
Gordon became the first openly gay player in Division I basketball in what is the latest step toward equality for all.
Following Robbie Rogers, Jason Collins, Michael Sam and others, Gordon came out publicly in April and says he could not be happier with his life today.
“This is the happiest I have ever been in my 22 years of living…No more HIDING!!!…Just want to live…” is what Gordon tweeted after coming out.
As for last night, the nerves weren’t there for the junior guard who helped the Minutemen to an NCAA Tournament berth last season.
The Plainfield, N.J. native said afterward: “I went into it like a regular game. I’ve been here before, but it was good to see the support I had.”
Gordon got to play before his family, including his twin brother Daryl, who was recently released from prison, according to the ESPN report.
“I held back the tears,” Gordon said. “I haven’t seen my brother since he’s been out. It was good to see my family sitting in that section — it’s something I’ve been dreaming about,” he said.
ESPN reported the UMass student section chanted Gordon’s name and held a banner with Gordon’s jersey number and the hashtag #BETRUE, the Nike slogan from Collins’ coming out announcement.
As for off the court, Gordon says his relationship with teammates has improved since his coming out.