BY ARNIE STAPLETON
AP SPORTS WRITER
DENVER -- Jason Collins had plenty of gifts for Matthew Shepard's parents: a basket, a blowout, an autographed No. 98 jersey that he wears in honor of their son.
They also shared some laughs.
Collins played the final eight minutes of the Brooklyn Nets' 112-89 romp over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night, and although his three points and four fouls weren't much to look at in the boxscore, rarely has the 35-year-old center been this proud of a performance.
"I got them a bucket," the center said.
After his cameo in Brooklyn's recovery from a 44-point loss against the Trail Blazers 24 hours earlier, Collins, the first openly gay athlete in America's four major sports, met with the parents of the slain Wyoming college student who was tortured and murdered in 1998 because he was gay.
Collins, who signed a 10-day contract with the Nets on Sunday, said the chance to meet Dennis and Judy Shepard was "one of those cool treats in life."
He gave them a signed black and white jersey — although not a game-worn one.
"I did not want to give them a sweaty jersey, so this is a backup," he said with a laugh.
BY BRIAN MAHONEY
AP BASKETBALL WRITER
Jason Collins became the NBA's first active openly gay player Sunday, signing a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets.
Collins will join the Nets for their game Sunday night in Los Angeles against the Lakers. The 35-year-old center revealed at the end of last season he is gay, but he was a free agent and had remained unsigned.
With a need for another big man, the Nets turned to the 7-foot Collins, who helped them reach two NBA Finals in the early 2000s.
"The decision to sign Jason was a basketball decision," general manager Billy King said in a statement. "We needed to increase our depth inside, and with his experience and size, we felt he was the right choice for a 10-day contract."
BY DAVE CAMPBELL
AP PRO FOOTBALL WRITER
INDIANAPOLIS -- Michael Sam needed no introduction.
He provided one anyway, subtly spelling out his desire to be known simply as a football player whose sexuality isn't a national story.
"Good afternoon. My name is Michael Sam. I play football for the University of Missouri," he said to commence his first public appearance since announcing he's gay.
Sam smiled and laughed often during a 12½-minute news conference at Lucas Oil Stadium, looking relaxed, jovial and confident while taking questions from the hundreds of reporters surrounding the podium.
Though Sam said he's been too busy working out to absorb the coverage in the two weeks since his revelation, he chided the media a bit for the volume of analysis of this watershed moment in sports. Sam will be the first open homosexual in the NFL.
"I wish you guys would just say, 'Michael Sam, how's football going? How's training going?' I would love for you to ask me that question. But it is what it is. And I just wish you guys would just see me as Michael Sam the football player instead of Michael Sam the gay football player."
BY WILLIAM DOUGLAS
MCCLATCHY FOREIGN STAFF
SOCHI, Russia -- Tennis great Billie Jean King arrived for Sunday’s closing of the 2014 Winter Olympics with a message for Russia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community: Hang in, hang on, and you’re not alone.
“Having the Winter Olympics here, the situation here in Russia, has opened up dialogue,” King said Saturday. “I’m always big on love over hate, and I think it’s important that everyone’s treated equally and good to each other. Hopefully, the LGBT community here in Russia knows that they’re not alone and we’ll learn from them.”
King, who is gay, is part of the official U.S. delegation that will witness the end of the 23-day international sports festival. Her presence represents the United States’ objection to a so-called “anti-propaganda” law that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed last June.
The law, widely viewed as an anti-gay measure, prohibits individuals from promoting “homosexual behavior” and spreading “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” among minors.
BY ERIK HALL
COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Greg DeStephen dealt with being outed as gay, having hostile teammates and diving with a broken back his freshman year, but none of it stopped him from becoming a four-time All-American diver at Missouri.
He is also the only Missouri athlete to publicly say he is gay while actively competing, the Columbia Missourian (http://bit.ly/1evXQf1 ) reports.
DeStephen qualified for the NCAA Championship meet three of his four years at Missouri. He earned All-Big 12 honors a dozen times from 2007 to 2010. He made the U.S. national team in 2010 for the Canada Cup.
But after his first semester at Missouri, he felt ready to leave. He considered transferring to his hometown Ohio State Buckeyes.
"He would come and talk to me about it," says Aimee Hukill, a member of the women's swim team from 2005 to 2009. "He would be like, 'I need to leave Missouri. I don't want to be here.'"
Not much more could have gone wrong his first semester. He pleaded guilty to alcohol possession. He broke a bone in his right hand. He got E. coli poisoning. He dove for months with a misdiagnosed fracture in his spine. And he developed mononucleosis.
But the toughest challenge came when a teammate broke his trust and told the rest of the team that he was gay without his permission.
DeStephen went on a date a couple months into his freshman year — his first date with a guy.
BY NATALIYA VASILYEVA
SOCHI, Russia -- A member of the punk group Pussy Riot said she and one of her bandmates were detained Tuesday while walking in downtown Sochi, the host city of the Winter Olympics.
Local activist Semyon Simonov told The Associated Press the Pussy Riot members were accused of theft and nine people were held in all.
Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova wrote on Twitter that she and Maria Alekhina were stopped and accused of a crime. She said a third member of the loosely organized group also was detained.
"At the moment of detention, we were not conducting any actions, we were walking in Sochi," Tolokonnikova wrote while being held by police. "We are in Sochi with the goal of staging a Pussy Riot protest. The song is called 'Putin will teach you to love the motherland.'"
Pussy Riot, a performance-art collective which edits its actions into music videos, has become an international flashpoint for those who contend Vladimir Putin's government has exceeded its authority in dealing with an array of issues, notably human and gay rights.
BY WILLIAM DOUGLAS
MCCLATCHY FOREIGN STAFF
SOCHI, Russia — Adorned in rainbow colors from head to toe, Vladimir Luxuria was out and about — at least temporarily — in Olympic Park Monday night.
“It’s okay to be gay in Russia!” she said repeatedly in English and Russian in a voice as loud as her wardrobe as onlookers walked by. “It’s okay to be gay!”
Luxuria, a transgender former member of Italy’s parliament, looked no worse for wear the day after she said she was hauled into a Russian police station for having a rainbow-colored flag near Olympic Park that said “It Is OK to be Gay” in Russian.
Apparently it wasn’t okay with Russian officials who took Luxuria away again Monday night as she tried to enter Shayba Arena, where she tried to take in a women’s Olympic hockey match between Canada and Switzerland. Italian journalists reported that officials took Luxuria beyond the Olympic security zone and took her spectator pass, which is required to enter the zone and attend events. She is scheduled to leave Sochi Tuesday, which she apparently was scheduled to do anyway.
“I’m going to enjoy,” she said about an hour before being taken away in a car. “I’m going to say that I like very much the modernity of this place and I wish a modernity of mind of this country because there are a lot of homophobic episodes of violence and nobody seems to care about this because there is a terrible law saying you can’t talk about gay issues in public because there could be a minor listening to you.”
BY NATALIYA VASILYEVA
SOCHI, Russia -- An Italian LGBT-rights activist said she was detained by police at the Olympics after being stopped while carrying a rainbow flag that read in Russian: "Gay is OK." Police on Monday denied this happened.
Vladimir Luxuria, a former Communist lawmaker in the Italian parliament who has become a prominent transgender rights crusader and television personality, told The Associated Press she was held for several hours before she was released. She said she was not charged.
Speaking from a Sochi hotel, she said she was detained on Sunday evening in a city park by two people she did not identify and who asked what she was wearing. Luxuria added she was kept at a police station for about two hours, most of the time waiting for an interpreter to arrive.
"The problem was not a rainbow flag, the problem was the writing," she said. "They asked me not to show things like that anymore."
Greg Cote: Official report concludes Miami Dolphins’ Bullygate saga for now; repercussions likely to follow
BY GREG COTE
One of the saddest locker room sagas and biggest off-field embarrassments in Miami Dolphins history reached a formal conclusion Friday. But whether the “Bullygate” controversy really has ended is doubtful.
Repercussions likely will follow in the form of punishments levied by the club or the NFL. Lawsuits might yet be filed related to a workplace environment fraught with harassment and taunting.
The independent examination ordered by the league in November took the form Friday of a detailed 140-page report by investigating attorney Ted Wells, and his conclusion was that Richie Incognito indeed was the bully in all of this and that Jonathan Martin told the truth about his victim’s role.
The two principals were not the only ones involved, though, which is a big reason this matter might not yet be over.
The Wells report found that current Dolphins Mike Pouncey and John Jerry joined Incognito in the harassment, and that victims in addition to Martin included a second young lineman thought to be Andrew McDonald, and an assistant trainer.
Explicitly the report details how the three implicated players taunted their victims. The language is sexually vulgar, racial and homophobic. In ways shocking, cruel and stunningly juvenile, Incognito, Pouncey and Jerry lend the most unsavory, literal connotation to the phrase “offensive” linemen.