BY HOWARD ULMAN
AP SPORTS WRITER
AMHERST, Mass. -- Derrick Gordon had kept his secret for too long.
He couldn't be himself. He considered giving up the sport he loved. Because he was gay, he distanced himself from teammates.
"I was living life in shame," the UMass guard said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "It took a toll on me."
Gordon became the first openly gay player in Division I men's basketball on Wednesday, making the announcement on ESPN and Outsports. Now he hopes to inspire others in similar situations.
"It's crazy that I'm the first," he told the AP. "I didn't know that it would be this long, but if I'm the first, then I'll start it off."
Previous announcements by NBA player Jason Collins and Missouri All-American defensive end Michael Sam made his decision easier. Gordon said he talked with Collins several times before making his announcement.
"There was a time that I didn't want to play basketball anymore and that's the worst feeling ever," he said. "Right now I'm happy. I'm free just to live my life."