UMass' Derrick Gordon says he's gay

Gordon came out to his teammates on April 2, after telling UMass coach Derek Kellogg in a phone conversation three days earlier. Kellogg stood by Gordon's side in the team meeting.

"From speaking with Derrick, I realized the pressure he had, the weight that was on his shoulders," Kellogg said. "You can already see in his demeanor that he is so much happier. I actually think this is something that brings our team closer together and helps Derrick play more freely."

Sophomore forward Tyler Bergantino said that even before Gordon addressed his teammates, there was something different in his demeanor.

"He looked happier, stress-free, like that was the real him," Bergantino said. "Before, when he would walk into the locker room, there was this cloud around him, like you couldn't quite get to him."

About a year ago, Gordon reached out to Wade Davis, executive director of the You Can Play Project, a group that works to ensure respect and safety for all athletes without regard for sexual orientation. Davis connected Gordon to a network of allies behind the scenes, and Gordon told ESPN these connections have been instrumental for him.

"Over the past year, I've gotten to know Derrick Gordon," Davis said. "He's like a little brother to me. I've watched him grow into a confident young man who is ready to be a leader on and off the court. His fearless desire to be his authentic self and his personal story of triumph will inspire others and continue to expand consciousness."

According to Gordon, after he made his announcement, one of his teammates immediately spoke up and said, "We got you; you're one of us." Afterward, Gordon and four other members of the team ate dinner together.

"Before, I usually just kept to myself because I didn't want to lie or be fake," Gordon said. "But not anymore. I feel so good right now. It's like this huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders."

Michael Sam, an All-American defensive end at Missouri, came out in interviews with ESPN, The New York Times and Outsports in February after his college career ended. He is projected as a middle-round prospect in next month's NFL draft.

Sam tweeted congratulations to Gordon after the announcement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

An April 9 story on ESPN.com included an incorrect Twitter account for Derrick Gordon. The post from his official account is included in the story.

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