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Houston Comets forward Sheryl Swoopes has come out in magazine stories being published by The Advocate and ESPN The Magazine. The three-time most valuable player for the Women's National Basketball Association, including for the 2005 season, tells The Advocate, "I don't want to say I've been living a lie, but for the past seven, eight years I haven't been able to be comfortable in my own skin, around my own friends and family."
The Advocate cover story with Swoopes will appear in the November 22 issue, on sale November 8. The ESPN magazine article hit newsstands Wednesday. In the ESPN story, AP reports, Swoopes says she has come out because "I'm tired of having to hide my feelings about the person I care about. About the person I love."
That person, she tells The Advocate, is Alisa "Scotty" Scott, a former basketball player herself and a former assistant coach on the Comets. Together the couple are raising Swoopes's 8-year-old son, Jordan. Swoopes was married to Jordan's father, football player Eric Jackson, until 1999.
"I'm nervous. I'm anxious. I'm excited. I'm relieved," Swoopes tells Advocate executive editor Anne Stockwell in the magazine's gay-press exclusive interview. But, she adds, "I'm not scared anymore."
Asked whether she considers herself lesbian or bisexual, Swoopes says, "I just consider myself a person." She adds, "I don't consider myself bisexual," and says, "The relationship I'm in right now, I hope, is the relationship I'll be in for the rest of my life."
Swoopes, 34, is a five-time WNBA All-Star and three-time Olympic gold medalist and has been named the league's MVP more times than any other player. She has played for the Comets since 1997, missing the 2001 season because of an injury. Her team won four consecutive league championships with Swoopes, 1997-2000.
Swoopes tells The Advocate that she hopes her coming-out "is gonna make a difference to a lot of people out there who want to come out and don't know how to do it or are afraid."
She says she does not expect to lose her lucrative endorsement deals with Nike and other companies. Indeed, one of the reasons Swoopes has come out is that she has signed an endorsement deal with Olivia Cruises and Resorts, the nation's most prominent lesbian-centered business. Out athletes Martina Navratilova and Rosie Jones are already Olivia spokeswomen.
Swoopes is the undisputed superstar of the WNBA. As AP reported, "Swoopes led the WNBA in scoring last year, averaging 18.6 points. She also averaged 4.3 assists and 2.65 steals while making 85% of her free throws and playing a league-high 37.1 minutes a game."
In her Advocate interview, Swoopes talks about how she met and fell in love with Scott, coming out to her strict Baptist mother, and how her son urged her not to quit the game after her 2001 injury. (Advocate.com)