And as of Wednesday, Collins is bowing out of the sport he says saved him. He made the announcement in an article simply called "Out," which he wrote as a special correspondent for The Players Tribune website.
"In order to understand why I am so lucky to be sitting here today as a person who is finally comfortable in his own skin, you need to understand how basketball saved me," Collins wrote. "I needed to live the past few years as an openly gay basketball player in order to be at peace retiring today."
Collins goes on to detail how taxing it was live as a closeted gay man and a pro basketball player for so many years, how the 2011
He was signed by the Brooklyn Nets after the All-Star break and remained with the team for the rest of the season. The acceptance he felt during those months and the realization that "it's still just basketball" meant the world to him.
And now Collins, a free agent since the end of last season, says he's ready to move on from the game.
"I'll continue to encourage others to live an authentic life," the former first-round draft pick wrote. "My hope is that everyone achieves that day when you step forward and reveal your truth on your own terms. Your life will be exponentially better when you celebrate all that makes you unique. Additionally, I hope to inspire others to create a world of acceptance and inclusion; not only by their words, but by their actions."