Jack Jablonski, a digital media content specialist for the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and a hockey player until being paralyzed after being hit in a high school hockey game more than 10 years ago, has come out publicly as gay.
“Prior to my injury, I began to battle my true self internally. I went from confusion, to disbelief, to denial, to pushing it down, to now, acceptance and happiness. This process has been extremely tough and lonely. I am proud of who I am and to ready to share,” Jablonski wrote.
“I couldn’t fully understand my feelings and thoughts,” he wrote. “I was a multisport athlete, growing up surrounded by straight, masculine world. I started to fell different and internalized everything.
“Once I was injured, my focus was on recovery, but the weight of my sexuality got heavier and heavier. I dealt with this on my own for a very long time and it ate me up. I am finally in a good place mentally and it’s time for me to move forward and live my life freely.”
Jablonski, 26, also acknowledged the impact other other LGBTQ people in sports have had on him, writing, “Having seen the acceptance to the brave men and women that came before me, I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done to pave the way in sports. You have helped people like myself become comfortable to be who we really are publicly. A gay man in the sports world.”
“Whether he knows it or not, Luke Prokop was huge for me,” Jablonski says. “I opened up and talked to him. I asked him a bunch of questions and picked his brain on how everything went for him, and he was nothing but complimentary of everyone, especially how the Predators treated him, which made me feel a lot better.”
The Kings sent a message celebrating Jablonski coming out:
“We are proud of Jack and impressed by the courage he displays — an inspiration to everyone in our organization. Inclusivity, Equality, and Diversity are embraced in our workplace & our community. Jack’s announcement is celebrated by our club and we support him unconditionally.”
Jablonski was paralyzed from the chest down and his spinal cord was severed after being checked in the back and slammed into the board in a high school game in Minnesota on Dec. 30, 2011.
Since the accident he has become an advocate for the disabled, forming the Jack Jablonski BEL13VE in Miracles Foundation (it’s raised more than $3 million for spinal cord research) and participates in clinical trials for a company trying to help people with spinal cord injuries recover and alleviate certain conditions.
In a message to Outsports about the reaction to his new, Jablonski said: “Extremely overwhelmed in the best way possible. Very heartwarming.” Jablonski, who hopes to work in an NHL front office one day, has been an inspiration for people with disabilities and will now become one for LGBTQ people in sports.