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updated: 4/30/2013 6:35 PM

Former teammates, coach praise Collins' courage

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Associated Press

ATLANTA -- Jason Collins played with the Atlanta Hawks for three seasons.

His former teammates and coach never suspected he was gay. But they welcomed his courage in becoming the first athlete in one of the major North American leagues to reveal his homosexuality while still active.

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Hawks coach Larry Drew says he's "very, very proud of Jason." And forward Josh Smith says Collins' decision has made it easier for others to be honest about their sexuality in public.

Collins joined the Hawks in 2009 and didn't play much -- just 103 games over his three years with the team. His most memorable contribution came in the 2011 playoffs, when the 7-footer started every game against Orlando and continually frustrated Dwight Howard. The Hawks upset the Magic in six games.

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