Basketball-Humphries becomes first player to come out as gay in Australia's NBL


FILE PHOTO: Mar 26, 2017; Memphis, TN, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Isaac Humphries (15) walks off the court after losing to the North Carolina Tar Heels in the finals of the South Regional of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at FedExForum. North Carolina won 75-73. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Melbourne United centre Isaac Humphries became Australia's first active male professional basketballer to come out as gay on Wednesday, expressing relief at putting behind him "extremely dark times" when he struggled with his sexuality.

The 24-year-old, a former U.S. college player with the University of Kentucky, broke the news to his team mates on Wednesday in a video posted on Melbourne United's social media.

"A few years ago I fell into a very dark place, a very lonely place," he tells team mates in the video.

"I couldn't be who I am and I attempted to take my life.

"The main reason behind me becoming so low and being at that point was because I was very much struggling with my sexuality and coming to terms with the fact that I'm gay."

Melbourne United Chief Executive Officer Nick Truelson said the whole club was proud of Humphries.

"Today is an incredible step in Isaac's journey, and we as a club are wholeheartedly supportive of him," said Truelson.

"Not only as a member of our club, but as a person. This is a momentous occasion for him personally, but also for male sport on a global scale."

Very few male players in professional basketball have come out as gay.

In 2013, Jason Collins became the first active NBA player to come out but no other players in the American league have followed his lead.

Pride in Sport, an Australian non-profit advocating inclusion, applauded Humphries but said his announcement highlighted athletes' fears that they might face discrimination, harassment, bullying and "loss of professional opportunities" if they came out.

Adelaide United midfielder Josh Cavallo became Australia's first player to come out as gay in the male top-flight A-League soccer competition last year.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Bradley Perrett)

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