Jennifer Azzi, Former Stanford Basketball Star, Comes Out as Gay

jennifer azzi

Jennifer Azzi came out as gay on Thursday, when she announced that she is married to her assistant, Blair Hardiek.

Azzi was speaking at an Anti-Defamation League Torch of Liberty Ceremony in San Francisco, where she was introducing Golden State Warriors President and COO, Rick Welts, when she made the announcement that she "lived a long time not being 100 percent honest," reports San Jose Mercury News

The former Stanford basketball player described how she went to great depths to conceal her sexuality. "Kind of the don't-ask-don't-tell kinda of thing. And it's so stupid. I don't know why we do that, but we do that," she said. 

"I'm a college coach. Is it going to hurt me with recruiting? What are people going to think? And you are constantly worrying about those things."

The head coach of the women's team at the University of San Francisco spoke about how Welts inspired her to come out and live her authentic truth. "What I realized in watching Rick in his path and his journey is that there is nothing more powerful than living the truth," said Azzi, reports San Jose Mercury News. "And the best thing I can do for my team is be authentic and true to myself"

Welts was the first senior sports executive to come out as gay in 2011, when he was the president and chief executive of the Phoenix Suns, reports The Associated Press

After the ceremony, Welts told San Jose Mercury News, "I've never been more proud of her that she would take that moment ... to choose that time to do what she just did."

Azzi, 47, and her wife Hardiek, were married in August. The duo have coached together for six years. For the first time since 1997, their team made it to the NCAA tournament. The duo told the paper that their players and peers have been "overwhelmingly supportive." 

In 1990, Azzi was named Final Four MVP, after leading Stanford to its first NCAA title. She won a gold medal in 1996 when she played on the Olympic team, reports AP.

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