Jason Collins: How Hip-Hop Helped Him Realize His Sexuality

In a groundbreaking Sports Illustrated article, NBA player credits DJ Quik's music with early realizations about his sexuality.

DJ Quik's 1991 platinum debut, Quik Is the Name, had a profound effect on hip-hop fans old enough to remember it, but veteran NBA player Jason Collins has an even bigger connection to the album, which came out around the same time he hit puberty and began to notice he was different.

On Monday, Collins sent shockwaves through the sports world, and the world at large, when he became the first active male professional athlete in a major league sport to announce that he's gay. "I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay," Collins said in a groundbreaking Sports Illustrated story he penned himself.

Since the revelation, Collins has been praised by everyone from President Barack Obama to future basketball hall of famer (and sometime rapper and actor) Shaquille O'Neal. With his announcement, Collins knocked down a major wall in the sports world, and interestingly enough, it was his early experiences with hip-hop that taught him about his own sexuality — either directly or indirectly.

"Jarron and I weren't allowed to listen to rap until we were 12," Collins said about himself and his twin brother. "After our birthday I dashed to Target and bought DJ Quik's album Quik Is the Name. I memorized every line. It was around this time that I began noticing subtle differences between Jarron and me. Our twinness was no longer synchronized. I couldn't identify with his attraction to girls."

If Jason did indeed learn every line to Quik's debut release, then he was reciting such sex-filled lines as "Yo I'm DJ Quik, a player and a hustler too/ So many girlies on my jock that I don't know what to do," from the X-rated "I Got That Feelin'."

Even though he didn't relate to the lyrics, in some way the music began to teach him about his own sexuality. "All kids around that age, around puberty, you start noticing things, and yeah, there's a difference, obviously, between us," he told ABC's "Good Morning America" in a piece that aired Tuesday (April 30). "You start noticing things. There's a difference between us."