In 2007, NBA star Tim Hardaway drew criticism after making homophobic remarks on a Miami radio show. “I hate gay people,” the former Miami Heat player declared. “I don’t like to be around gay people. I’m homophobic.”
Now, to the surprise of many advocates, Hardaway has come out in support of LGBT equality. “My family and friends came to me and were like, ‘What are you doing?’” he told ABC-7 in El Paso, TX, explaining his reversed views. “I talked to them and they made me understand that [homophobia] wasn’t right.”
Hardaway, 44, appeared in El Paso last Thursday to speak at a press conference on behalf of the “No Recall Group,” an organization fighting against the recall of El Paso mayor John Cook and city representatives Susie Byrd and Steve Ortega. Cook, Byrd and Ortega are under attack from local conservative groups for voting to reinstate domestic partner benefits for city employees.
“It’s not right to not let the gays and lesbians have equal rights here,” Hardaway told the crowd, adding that he hopes “the city will grow and understand that gays and lesbians need equal rights.”
Sports Illustrated’s Dave Zirin spoke with John Amaechi, the first former NBA player to come out of the closet and the implicit target of Hardaway’s original tirade. Back in 2007, Amaechi said, Hardaway’s response to the LGBT community seemed like little more than “emergency rehab” for the star’s reputation.
“However, it seems to me that this is a far more genuine piece of outreach,” Amaechi said of Hardaway’s recent public position. “I hope this is a story of true redemption rather than a savvy P.R. ploy … [but] either way, he is at least saying the right words, and that will make a positive difference.”
Hardaway has also been working with LGBT rights groups in Miami, ABC-7 reported.
“[If Hardaway can have a] change of heart, anybody can,” said Rep. Byrd.
Photo credit: Benson Kua (Creative Commons Share Alike)