In a 2007 radio interview, former NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway strangely went out of his way to lambast both the idea of gay rights, and the LGBT community itself, telling 790 AM radio in Miami that “you know I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don’t like gay people and I don’t like to be around gay people. I am homophobic.” It’s hard to really talk around black and white comments like that, but the swift reaction to Hardaway’s hateful stance spurred a genuine streak of regret and quick change of attitude for the former Miami Heat point guard.
Last year, near where Hardaway attended college at UTEP, the retired star joined in a fundraising fight with the El Paso mayor and two city representatives to restore health benefits for gay and unmarried city employees. Now, back in Miami, Hardaway is going two steps further – acting as the symbolic first signee of an Equal Marriage Florida petition created to ensure that gay couples in the southern state are given the same rights as their just-as-in-love heterosexual counterparts.
Former NBA star Tim Hardaway tonight is scheduled to become the first petition-signer on the Equal Marriage Florida effort to put a proposed constitutional amendment legalizing same-sex marriage in the state on the November 2014 ballot.
The effort was launched just days before U.S. Supreme Court rulings that struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act and effectively made California the 13th state in the nation where same-sex couples can legally marry.
This is a fantastic turnaround. Hardaway is one of the few apologetic athletes that we recall that were genuinely upset that their words could hurt so many, and his crossover speaks to the long overdue changing of the times. Hardaway could have rested on his apology and let the matter rest as just another instance of an athlete putting his foot in mouth before slinking off to obscurity, but instead he’s taken to activism, and our hands hurt from clapping so hard for the guy.
It’d be nice, once they return from their much-earned honeymoon following the NBA championship, to now get a few current Miami Heat to sign the same petition. To follow the Heat’s onetime leader into doing what’s right for those that wish to express their love as millions of others get to do without reflex.