NBA referee Bill Kennedy has come out publicly as gay just over a week after he ejected Sacramento Kings guard Rajon Rondo for a torent of homophobic comments and slurs during a game.
"I am proud to be an NBA referee and I am proud to be a gay man," Kennedy told Yahoo! Sports. "I am following in the footsteps of others who have self-identified in the hopes that will send a message to young men and women in sports that you must allow no one to make you feel ashamed of who you are."
Kennedy is the third referee in the big four sports to come out publicly as gay, following the NBA's Violet Palmer and MLB umpire Dale Scott.
In addition to Palmer and now Kennedy, the NBA also has an out front-office executive in Rick Welts and two out former players -- John Amaechi and Jason Collins.
"I think any time someone can be out at the top of their profession it's a win," out gay high school basketball coach Anthony Nicodemo told Outsports. "It shows others that you can succeed and sexual orientation does not matter."
Kennedy allegedly was the victim of a scary few moments during a Dec. 3 game in Mexico City when Rondo refused to the leave the court after Kennedy ejected him for using slurs. According to Yahoo! Sports:
In the game officials' report used as part of the NBA's investigation - which includes details provided to Yahoo Sports from National Basketball Referee's Association general counsel Lee Seham - Kennedy and fellow referee Ben Taylor described Rondo's post-ejection diatribe as including the statements: "You're a mother------- faggot. ... You're a f------ faggot, Billy."
Rondo was suspended by the league on Friday for the incident.