Despite being taller and tougher than the other kids at school, Brittney Griner, the WNBA's number one draft pick and two-time Naismith Trophy winner said she was still the target of teasing and bullying from her peers.
The worst of it was during middle school, she wrote in an essay for the New York Times published Sunday.
"I was in a new school with people I didn’t know, and the teasing about my height, appearance and sexuality went on nonstop, every day," she wrote. "People called me a dude and said there was no way I could be a woman. Some even wanted me to prove it to them. During high school and college, when we traveled for games, people would shout the same things while also using racial epithets and terrible homophobic slurs. (That’s nothing compared with the horrendous things people call me online today — if you don’t believe me, look at the comments about me on Twitter and Instagram.)"
Griner, who said she was a lesbian in an interview with Sports Illustrated last month, wrote the essay to say she is happy to be out because she wants to set an example for other people struggling to be comfortable with their own identity. She also took the opportunity to speak more about Jason Collins, the NBA player who came out on the cover of Sports Illustrated last week.
"Jason Collins's announcement, with the support he has received has already made me more optimistic than ever that people are ready," she wrote. "It might be slow, but there are so many positive signs. After being drafted by the Phoenix Mercury, and with more media acknowledging my sexuality, I've received more hugs, tweets, thank-yous and well-wishes in regard to being out than ever before."