Ex-NBA star Amaechi reveals he's gay

Updated: 2007-02-09 08:42

John Amaechi, the former NBA player and England basketball international, is to publish a book next week in which he will reveal he is gay.

John Amaechi, the former NBA player and England basketball international seen here in 2000, is to publish a book next week in which he will reveal he is gay. [AFP]

The autobiography, entitled Man in the Middle, will detail his six seasons in the world's leading basketball league and its release is being eagerly awaited in the United States.

ESPN, publishers of the book have lined up a television documentary featuring the 6ft 10in former centre and a revelatory magazine article prior to the release of the book in the United States on February 20.

Amaechi, 36, becomes the first male basketball player to come out as gay and only a handful of high-profile men in other team sports have done so.

Small-time American baseball player Billy Bean created a stir when he published a biography in which he revealed his homosexuality and Esera Tuaolo, an American football player for nine years in the NFL, did likewise in a magazine article in 2002.

Well-known women's basketball star Sheryl Swoopes did the same last year but, with the NBA known for its machismo and womanising players, no male star has made such a revelation.

In Great Britain, Amaechi will be the most high-profile former athlete to have taken such a step since the late footballer Justin Fashanu did so in the late 1980s.

Amaechi signed for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA after graduation in 1995.

After just 28 games, he moved to Europe and played for French clubs Cholet and Limoges, Bologna in Italy, Greece's Panathinaikos and the Sheffield Sharks in the British Basketball League, five teams in the next three years.

He returned to the NBA with the Orlando Magic in 1999-2000 and enjoyed his best season, earning him a 10 million dollar (five million pounds), four-year contract.

But after one more season in Orlando, Amaechi was traded to the Utah Jazz for two more seasons prior to a spectacular fall from grace which saw him not used at all at the start of the 2003-04 season.

There followed trades to the Houston Rockets and New York Knicks but neither club ever played Amaechi and the latter eventually paid up his contract and released him.

He averaged 6.2 points and 2.6 rebounds a game over his NBA career.

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