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Monday, October 25, 2021

First openly gay NBA player Jason Collins comes to UF to support Clinton

<p dir="ltr">Jason Collins sits in front of the UF College Democrats table on Turlington Plaza on Friday. Collins, along with students, registered people to vote and campaigned for Hillary Clinton.</p>

Jason Collins sits in front of the UF College Democrats table on Turlington Plaza on Friday. Collins, along with students, registered people to vote and campaigned for Hillary Clinton.

Jared Lamberg and his family were the first ones to greet Jason Collins on Turlington Plaza on Friday morning.

Collins, a former NBA player, came to UF on Friday afternoon to campaign for Hillary Clinton. Lamberg, a Philadelphia native, flew down for UF’s family weekend with his parents to visit his sister, Hannah, but he knew he had to meet the 7-foot-tall former Washington Wizards and Brooklyn Nets basketball player.

“He was actually shorter that I thought,” the 15-year-old said.

Lamberg was one of about a dozen others who stopped to speak with Collins, a guest of UF College Democrats. Collins, a firm supporter of Clinton in the upcoming election, said he wanted to encourage students to vote.

After taking a picture with Collins, Lamberg said they spoke for a few minutes about the Philadelphia 76ers and politics.

“I’m a pretty open-minded guy,” Lamberg said. “I watched the debate, and I like to learn about the candidates. I can’t vote yet, but next time I will for sure.”

Voting in the upcoming election is a civic duty — one that should be taken seriously, Collins said.

“Being an African-American and a member of the LGBTQ community, people have died for my right to vote,” he said. “Now that we have this opportunity, we have to take advantage of it.”

He said speaking in Florida is especially important to him because it is a major swing state. In Florida, the last day to register to vote is Oct. 11.

Collins is also known as being the first openly gay active basketball player in the NBA. In 2013, he shared his story with Sports Illustrated, and he has since advocated for the LGBTQ+ community. He and his brother, also a retired NBA player, met Clinton’s daughter Chelsea at Stanford University 20 years ago. Since then, he’s gotten to know the Clinton family.

“We got to see the president and first lady at the time as mom and dad, and then over the years, as grandma and grandpa,” Collins said.

He said this election is more important than ever, especially with so many U.S. Supreme Court justice seats at stake.

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“I am a huge fan of Hillary,” Collins said. “She’s a trailblazer. I have a connection with the Clintons. She really deeply cares about all of us, not just some of us, and I think she would be an amazing president.”

Jason Collins sits in front of the UF College Democrats table on Turlington Plaza on Friday. Collins, along with students, registered people to vote and campaigned for Hillary Clinton.

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