This is so inspiring! Veteran NBA referee, Bill Kennedy, has bravely come out as gay just days after NBA star Rajon Rondo allegedly called him a string of anti-gay slurs. Since then, the outpouring of support for the ref has been overwhelming, with both fans and fellow NBA stars ‘proudly’ standing by him.
Longtime referee, Bill Kennedy, 49, took an enormous step for the NBA on Dec. 13 after making the decision to “proudly” come out as gay in a new interview. The respected official decided to go public about his sexuality just days after Sacramento Kings point guard Rajon Rondo allegedly hurled a string of homophobic slurs at him while being ejected from a game. Since then, Bill has received an outpouring of support, with everyone from fans to NBA stars like Jason Collins sending messages of encouragement and admiration. See their inspiring messages below!
The 49-year-old referee, who’s severed in the NBA since 1995 and is its only second active openly gay official, came out with an emotional statement given to Yahoo Sports on Dec. 13. “I am proud to be an NBA referee and I am proud to be a gay man,” he told the publication. “I am following in the footsteps of others who have self-identified in the hopes that [this] will send a message to young men and women in sports that you must allow no one to make you feel ashamed of who you are.”
Immediately following his courageous statement, a number of NBA players and officials stepped out in support of the veteran ref, offering words of encouragement and admiration for his bravery. “I wholeheartedly support Bill’s decision to live his life proudly and openly,” said NBA commissioner Adam Silver. “Throughout his 18-year career with the league, Bill has excelled as a referee because of his passion, dedication and courage. Those qualities will continue to serve him well both as a game official and as a positive influence for others. While our league has made great progress, our work continues to ensure that everyone is treated with respect and dignity.”
Retired NBA star Jason Collins, who famously came out as the first gay athlete playing in a major American team sport back in May 2013, also took to Twitter to share a heartfelt message supporting Bill. “So proud of #BillKennedy for sharing his story and demonstrating true professionalism,” he wrote. “Much #respect & #courage.”
From there, support for Bill only seemed to grow, as fans continued to post encouraging messages for the ref on Twitter. Here are some of their reactions.
Wow. Good for Bill Kennedy. Hopefully his bravery is well taken. https://t.co/F7PCqF13sX
— B. Spiegel (@knicks148) December 14, 2015
Proud of Bill Kennedy. Don't take away from his happy moment by discussing anything other than his bravery. That's the story.
— Got 'Em Coach (@GotEm_Coach) December 14, 2015
1 game? Seriously? Bill Kennedy = Bravery and a damn good referee too.
— Maya Starks (@mayastarks) December 14, 2015
Class as usual from Gregg Popovich. Good to see Bill Kennedy's fellow refs and coaches, Adam Silver, support him publicly.
— Francis (@smelllikesugar) December 15, 2015
Good for you, Bill Kennedy. Congratulations & support from someone you'll never meet. Also, please do better, Rondo. https://t.co/z7Br6FH466
— Kate (@juliansinger) December 14, 2015
Bill’s revelation comes on the heels of the NBA’s suspension of Sacramento Kings point guard, Rajon Rondo, after he unleashed a bigoted tirade against Bill during a December 3rd game in Mexico City. Rajon was ejected after he received a technical foul and then began to taunt Bill, receiving a second technical foul and being told to leave the court. At that point, Rajon had to be held back by his teammates as he screamed at the respected ref; “You’re a motherf*****g f****t. … You’re a f*****g f****t, Billy.” Though he first denied the reports, Rajon later took to Twitter to apologize for his offensive comments, claiming he made them purely “out of frustration.”
We’re so glad Bill has the support of his fellow NBA officials and fans! Do YOU think Bill is brave for coming out, HollywoodLifers? Let us know in the comments below!