For the next two weeks we’re running a daily series of our conversations on the red carpet at the ESPYs. This is the second in the series.
Former NBA All-Star Cedric Ceballos told Outsports he played with a gay teammate in college and looks forward to a day when homophobia is in our distant past. We caught up with Ceballos at the ESPY Awards on July 11, where the former Cal State Fullerton star told us about his gay former teammate and roommate.
He was a normal person like me. He played ball, worked hard, paid his rent on time. The things that mattered, that’s all I was really worried about as a college student. We both struggled to eat, that’s all college students do. We just kind of went about our way. It was nothting special about him. I love him to death to this day. He’s a great friend of mine.
When asked how the rest of the team treated the gay teammate, Ceballos told Outsports that no one on the team cared about his sexual orientation.
"No problems at all," he said.
We've been told a narrative that sports have suddenly become more welcome to gay athletes just in recent years, but Ceballos' experience tells a different story. In the late 1980s, there was a Div. I college basketball player who was out to his team and living with at least one teammate.
Ceballos, 42, who currently owns and plays for the Arizona Scorpions of the ABA, said the vast majority of professional athletes are not anti-gay, and he's tired of the media portraying athletes as homophobic.
It’s the hateful side of the world that really treats people differently because of their sexual orientation or the way they live their life. That's not the norm, but the norm doesn't get a lot of publicity like the hateful. People don't want to see a big, huge football player hanging out with a gay guy, and they're all cool and buddies. They want to see the hateful side. That’s just perception. And hopefully this world will turn and change that in the future.
Ceballos is CSU-Fullerton's all-time leading points-per-game scorer. He won the NBA's Slam Dunk contest in 1992. He played for five NBA teams from 1991-2000, including a run to the NBA Finals with the Phoenix Suns. He also played for the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks and Detroit Pistons.
You can catch up with Ceballos on Twitter.
Previously: Rob Gronkowski 'cool' with a gay teammate
PHOTO: 25 Oct 1999: Cedric Ceballos #23 of the Dallas Mavericks stands with the ball during the game against the Orlando Magic at the Orlando Arena in Orlando, Florida. The Magic defeated the Mavericks 109-97. Mandatory Credit: Andy Lyons /Allsport