A former Vanderbilt Commodore is making news after coming out in a new book. John Amaechi was the first and only British player in the NBA, and is the first NBA player to publicly announce his homosexuality.
Amaechi makes the announcement in his new autobiography, "Man in the Middle." The book will be released February 14th.
Three years after his playing career ended, Amaechi is the sixth professional male athlete from one of the four major American sports – and the first male professional basketball player – to publicly discuss his homosexuality.
Former NFL running back David Kopay came out in 1977; offensive lineman Roy Simmons and defensive lineman Esera Tuaolo came out more recently. Glenn Burke, an outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland A’s in the 1970s, and Billy Bean, a utility player in the 1980s and 1990s, also have come out.
The 36-year-old Amaechi played his freshman year of college ball at Vanderbilt, where he averaged 2.8 points per game and 2.7 rebounds before transferring to Penn State. He played 301 NBA games over five seasons. The 6 foot 9 inch center from Great Britain averaged 6.2 points and 2.6 rebounds in the NBA.
In his five seasons, Amaechi played for Cleaveland, Orlando, and the Utah Jazz. The Jazz traded Amaechi to Houston in his final season, but did not play in any games for the Rockets. Houston traded Amaechi to the New York Knicks later that season where he also saw no playing time.
The British newspaper, The Times Online, reports the source of Amaechi’s anger was his experience with Utah coach Jerry Sloan. The paper says the book accuses Sloan of being homophobic.