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I'm not a big basketball fan, but today I am going to be buying a number 98  Nets t-shirt.

Nets center Jason Collins presented an autographed No. 98 jersey to the family of Matthew Shepard in Denver on Thursday.

Collins, the first openly gay NBA player, wears the No. 98 in honor of Shepard, a homosexual man who was tortured and murdered in 1998 at the age of 21. The 13-year vet also donned No. 98 while playing with the Celtics and the Wizards during the 2012-13 season, before he came out as gay last April.

“The number has great significance to the gay community,” Collins explained when he announced his sexuality in a Sports Illustrated essay. “One of the most notorious antigay hate crimes occurred in 1998. Matthew Shepard, a University of Wyoming student, was kidnapped, tortured and lashed to a prairie fence. He died five days after he was finally found.”

Jason Collins is trailblazer of courage and class.  He is using the publicity as the first openly gay NBA player to highlight Matthew Shepard's tragic story.  It's not often when wearing some sports gear is all about making things right.
“I’m so fortunate to have met Matthew Shepard’s parents and brother tonight after [the Nets'] win tonight in Denver,” Collins wrote on Twitter.

”It was delightful,” Judy Shepard said of the meeting, according to the Associated Press. “We were happy to finally have the opportunity to meet.”

Collins’ No. 98 was the best-selling jersey on the NBA’s online store earlier this week.

”I did not want to give them a sweaty jersey, so this is a backup,” Collins said, according to the AP, adding that his meeting with the Shepards was “one of those cool treats in life.”

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