By Lucas Grindley
Originally published on Advocate.com May 01 2013 11:13 AM ET
Among the touching details that Jason Collins revealed when coming out in that Sports Illustrated op-ed was the revelation that his number, 98, is actually a tribute to Matthew Shepard. And when she heard that, Shepard's mom said it moved her to tears.
"To hear the story behind his number, well, I cried," said Judy Shepard during an interview with Headline News. "I thought it was such a tribute to Matt, to Matt's story, and to so many other young people who are struggling. His own silent, private tribute, I was very moved."
Matthew Shepard is the gay college student who was murdered in Wyoming in an infamous hate crime in 1998. During President Obama's first term, a federal hate-crimes law was passed that bears his name.
Collins is the first active NBA player to come out, and he had worn a jersey number in honor of Shepard without ever explaining why.
"When I put on my jersey I was making a statement to myself, my family and my friends," Collins wrote in the op-ed.
In the video below, watch the entire interview with the Shepards during which they talk about Collins's impact on young people.