Veteran National Basketball Association (NBA) referee Bill Kennedy has come out publicly as gay, just days after he was allegedly branded a "mother-f**king f*ggot" on court by a player.
Sacremento Kings player Rajon Rondo has been suspended for one game and will lose $86,300 in match salary following the altercation, which took place during a game in Mexico City on December 3.
"I am proud to be an NBA referee and I am proud to be a gay man," Kennedy told Yahoo Sports
on Sunday (December 13).
The 49-year-old, who has refereed over 1000 NBA matches as well as the London 2012 Olympics, added: "I am following in the footsteps of others who have self-identified in the hopes that will send a message to young men and women in sports that you must allow no one to make you feel ashamed of who you are."
NBA commissioner Adam Silver stated: "I wholeheartedly support Bill's decision to live his life proudly and openly.
"Throughout his 18-year career with the league, Bill has excelled as a referee because of his passion, dedication and courage. Those qualities will continue to serve him well both as a game official and as a positive influence for others."
Rondo, who was reported to have said "You're a mother-f**king f*ggot. You're a f**king f*ggot, Billy," after being ejected for two technical faults during the game, has since apologised for the incident.
The 29-year-old wrote on Twitter: "My actions during the game were out of frustration and emotion, period."
He added: "They absolutely do not reflect my feelings toward the LGBT community. I did not mean to offend or disrespect anyone."
Kennedy is the second NBA referee to come out publicly, after Violet Palmer did so last year upon marrying her long-term partner.
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