When Golden State Warriors president Rick Welts was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend, one of the people most excited was Warriors coach and Welts’ friend Steve Kerr,

In an essay for the Athletic, Kerr noted all the ways Welts has succeeded as a basketball executive for the league, various teams and in various roles, but was also proud of how Welts handled a crucial aspect of his personal life.

Rick also represents something much more important than basketball or business success, and that is social advancement. You see, Rick in 2011 became the first executive in any major American sport to announce that he was gay.

His announcement, which I know was difficult and courageous, has helped advance our country’s acceptance that sexual identity is actually unique to each person, and quite normal. There is a reason that the younger generation in our country is growing up with a much more progressive view on homosexuality and gender differences. It’s because people in every field have felt more and more comfortable sharing their stories in order to help others.

The more we realize that we are all just people, with our own identities and circumstances, and that we can all advance in any field no matter race, gender or sexual identity, the better off we all are. But it takes leaders, people in prominent jobs and high places, to help bring that awareness to the world. I am thankful to Rick for making that contribution.

Kerr is a great coach, but is becoming an even better advocate for social justice and his awareness of the importance of Welts being an out gay man is a testament to this.