TIME's '100 Most Influential People' list includes Jason Collins

TIME

TIME revealed their list of the "100 Most Influential People" in the world, with some regional covers, one which includes Beyonce. Four athletes made the list, including soccer star Cristiano Renaldo, tennis champ Serena Williams, Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks and Brooklyn Nets very own Jason Collins, who in some regions made the cover of the magazine.

Collins was listed as a "Pioneer," for being the first openly gay player in the NBA. The TIME piece on Collins was written by his close friend and a fellow Stanford grad Chelsea Clinton.

She writes:

I met Jason Collins when we were freshmen at Stanford. Not surprisingly, the first thing I noticed was his height. The second thing I noticed was his kindness off the court — and his fierceness on it. Kindness to his friends, his family and fans. Fierceness in his drive to win. Jason has always been focused on others, on what’s right for those he loves, and on helping those whose jersey is the same as his.

When Jason called to talk about his forthcoming Sports Illustrated cover story, "The Gay Athlete," I realized at some point that I wasn’t surprised we were having the conversation we were. Not because I knew what we were going to talk about when I answered the phone. Rather, because it made eminent sense that it would be Jason becoming the first openly gay, still active pro athlete in a major U.S. sports league.

Jason’s kindness and fierceness alike derive from that word too often bandied about and too rarely true: integrity. Jason has always maintained he’s first a basketball player. He is. But he’s also a leader and an inspiration. For Michael Sam, Derrick Gordon and others whose names we may never know. And also for those of us lucky enough to be fans — or to call him our friend.

Here's Collins speaking to TIME about his "biggest influences" in his life.

At Thursday's practice, Collins reacted to the news.

"It’s a cool honor, but I know I’m not just doing this by myself," he said. "There have been a lot of people who have helped me get to where I am, a lot of people who have made the path easier for me, and that’s the one thing I hope I’m doing for other people is making it easier for them to live their authentic life."

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