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Jason Collins gives family of Matthew Shepard his #98 jersey

"It was very cool," Judy Shepard said of the gesture. "Very kind and thoughtful."

Jason Collins with the Shepard family
Jason Collins with the Shepard family

Jason Collins of the Brooklyn Nets met with the family of Matthew Shepard after the game in Denver against the Nuggets and gave them his No. 98 Nets jersey. Collins has worn the jersey for three NBA teams to honor the memory of Shepard, the gay student who was killed in Wyoming in 1998.

"It was very cool," said Matthew's mother Judy to the Denver Post. "Very kind and thoughtful." Collins joked that he did not give the family a game-worn jersey. "I did not want to give them a sweaty jersey, so this is a backup," he said. Collins met with Judy and her husband Dennis and Shephard's son for about 10 minutes after the game, in which the Nets won easily.

Collins, like many Americans, was deeply affected by the brutal killing of Shepard and he wore No. 98 even while closeted while playing in Boston and Washington. "I was in college at the time when he was killed and of course it's a tragedy what happened and I just hope that it inspires others to move forward," Collins said. "I think it's a tribute to Matthew Shepard and also the year 1998," he said. "The year 1998 has a lot of significance to me and obviously a lot of other people."

It was the first time Collins had met any members of the Shepard family and he called it "one of the cool treats in life." The whole Collins story since being signed this week has been cool.