Tony Murray, Moral Support for a Gay N.B.A. Player, Dies at 60March 24, 2021
Mr. Murray, along with his husband, helped their nephew Jason Collins become the first player in the league to come out publicly. He died of Covid-19.
By Clay Risen
This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.
When Jason Collins stepped onto the court on Feb. 23, 2014, as a member of the Brooklyn Nets, it was a historic event: He was the first openly gay player in the National Basketball Association, and this was his first time in uniform since he had come out.
Among the thousands cheering him on in Los Angeles, in a game against the Lakers, were his uncle, Mark Collins, and Mark’s husband, Tony Murray. “Congratulations,” they said to Mr. Collins over drinks after the game. “We love you.”
They were more than just supportive family members. Mr. Collins and Mr. Murray married in 2013, the same year Jason Collins came out in a cover story in Sports Illustrated. In that article, and in many other places, he talked about how important his uncles were to him as examples of gay men — and, as he began to tell people about his sexuality, how valuable they were as guides and advisers.
“For a confused young boy,” Mr. Collins wrote, “I can think of no better role model of love and compassion.”
They also paved the way for Jason to come out to his family by showing them that gay men were nothing to be afraid of. Some relatives had difficulty accepting that Mark Collins was gay — until they met Tony.
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