Jason Collins Meets With Matthew Shepard’s Family

The NBA’s first openly gay player chats to parents of slain Wyoming student

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David Zalubowski / AP

Brooklyn Nets center Jason Collins, center, jokes with teammates during player introductions before the Nets faced the Denver Nuggets in an NBA basketball game in Denver on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014.

Jason Collins’ recent road trip to Colorado was about more than just basketball. After helping the Nets during their 112-89 win over the Nuggets, the NBA’s first openly gay athlete took time to meet the parents of Matthew Shepard.

Shepard was brutally tortured and murdered for being homosexual in 1998, and Collins wears the number 98 on his jersey in honor of the slain student.

During their brief meeting on Thursday, Collins presented Dennis and Judy Shepard with a autographed jersey, an experience the seven-foot center described as “one of those cool treats in life.”

“It was great. It was all great. He’s very kind, smart, humble. It was delightful,” said Judy Shepard. “We were happy to finally have the opportunity to meet.”