Late last summer Jason called and said that he was coming over because he had something to tell me. This was nothing new. We speak multiple times a day, always have. He's Tio Jason to my three kids. He's like a brother to my wife. He's my twin, eight minutes older. We live only a few miles apart on the west side of L.A. But while most of our conversations are quick and light, this one was different.
"What's going on?" I asked.
He sat down in my living room.
"Jarron," he said, "I gotta talk to you about something serious."
He was very simple and matter-of-fact.
"Jarron, I'm gay."
I won't lie. I had no idea. We talked, he answered my questions, I hugged him and I digested what he had told me. At the end of the day, this is what matters: He's my brother, he's a great guy, and I want him to be happy. I'll love him and I'll support him and, if necessary, I'll protect him.
What does Jason want out of this? He wants to live his life. He wants a relationship, he wants a family, he wants to settle down. He wants to move forward with his personal life while maintaining his life as a professional basketball player. That's all, really.
This announcement will be surprising to some people. I already anticipate the questions: "Are you the gay twin or the straight one?" This is uncharted territory, and no one can predict how it will play out. It's a big deal -- but it's also not a big deal. When the media crush is over, Jason will have the strength to deal with whatever challenges come from being openly gay.
As for us, we're still going to give each other grief. (He's still going to be a terrible golfer; he's still the guy who could help more with changing my kids' diapers.) We'll still be competitive in our way. As kids we were always pushing each other, whether it was for good grades or for possession of the remote control. As NBA players we both wanted to be stronger, so each summer we would have a "liftoff" to see who could put up more weight.
Today, Jason has taken a huge weight off ?his shoulders. And I've never been more proud of him.