Wednesday’s Sports In Brief
Derrick Gordon had kept his secret for too long.
He couldn’t be himself. He considered giving up the sport he loved. Because he was gay, he distanced himself from teammates.
”I was living life in shame,” the UMass guard said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. ”It took a toll on me.”
Gordon became the first openly gay player in Division I men’s basketball on Wednesday, making the announcement on ESPN and Outsports. Now he hopes to inspire others in similar situations.
”It’s crazy that I’m the first,” he told the AP. ”I didn’t know that it would be this long, but if I’m the first, then I’ll start it off.”
Previous announcements by NBA player Jason Collins and Missouri All-American defensive end Michael Sam made his decision easier. Gordon said he talked with Collins several times before making his announcement.
”There was a time that I didn’t want to play basketball anymore and that’s the worst feeling ever,” he said. ”Right now I’m happy. I’m free just to live my life.”
DETROIT (AP) When Michigan State was fighting to stay afloat despite a succession of injuries to key players, Lacey Holsworth was there.
When the team rebounded to win the Big Ten tournament, the 8-year-old from St. Johns, Mich., was there.
And as the cold-shooting Spartans bowed out of the NCAA tournament at the hands of eventual champion Connecticut one win short of the Final Four, she was there.
Now, Lacey is gone.
The little girl affectionately known as ”Princess Lacey” finally succumbed to the cancer that she battled since 2011. Her father, Matt Holsworth, said Lacey died at their home late Tuesday ”with her mommy and daddy holding her in their arms.”
Lacey met Michigan State star Adreian Payne during one of her hospital stays, and their friendship quickly blossomed. The little girl became known to legions of basketball fans, cheering on Payne and the Spartans on Twitter as they became a popular pick to win it all this season.
”Words can’t express how much I already miss Lacey,” Payne said in a statement released by the school. ”She is my sister, and will always be a part of my life. She taught me how to fight through everything with a smile on my face even when things were going wrong. I’m a better man because of her.”
HONOLULU (AP) – The next Pro Bowl will be played in Arizona at the site of the Super Bowl, skipping Hawaii for the first time since 2010.
The game will return to Hawaii in 2016, the NFL announced Wednesday.
The 2015 game will be the third time the Pro Bowl is held in the same city as the Super Bowl. The NFL’s all-star game took place in Los Angeles after the first Super Bowl in 1967, then the two games weren’t in the same city again until South Florida in 2010.
Since 1980, all but one Pro Bowl has been held at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, the college football home of the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.
The Pro Bowl will remain a week before the Super Bowl, as it has the last five years. The new format introduced after last season, which scrapped the AFC vs. NFC matchup, will be retained. The new format splits the all-stars through a schoolyard-style draft, a setup loosely based on fantasy sports meant to play toward player egos and the changing ways fans are interacting with the game.
The Pro Bowl after this coming season will take place Jan. 25, 2015, at University of Phoenix Stadium. A year later, the game will be held Jan. 31, 2016, at Aloha Stadium.
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) – A shaken Oscar Pistorius refused to look at a gruesome photo of his slain girlfriend’s bloodied head on Wednesday, telling a prosecutor through tears, ”I don’t have to look at a picture. I was there.”
”It’s time that you look at it,” chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel said during a fierce first day of cross-examination in which he doggedly pressed the double-amputee Olympian to ”take responsibility” for killing Reeva Steenkamp.
The 27-year-old Pistorius is charged with premeditated murder in the Valentine’s Day 2013 shooting of Steenkamp, who was hit three times – in the head, arm and hip – as she cowered behind a locked toilet door. Pistorius says he shot the 29-year-old model and law school graduate by mistake, thinking she was a dangerous intruder.
The Ultimate Warrior put on his signature airbrushed trench coat, shook the white ring ropes, and, for a few fleeting minutes, the wrestler billed as hailing from Parts Unknown was back home in the wrestling ring.
”Speak to me, Warriors!” he bellowed on Monday night’s ”Raw”, back on TV after an 18-year absence.
He soaked up the applause from a New Orleans crowd chanting his name and pulled out a neon mask that replicated the face paint he wore in the ring for every main event battle with Hulk Hogan and Randy ”Macho Man” Savage in the 1990s. Warrior cut a promo to show how much he appreciated his return to the WWE.
Less than 24 hours later, Warrior, one of the most colorful stars in pro wrestling history, was dead. He was 54.
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) – Tapiture was made the 9-5 early favorite for this weekend’s $1 million Arkansas Derby, which attracted a field of nine horses.
He drew post position three on Wednesday for the 1 1/8-mile race and will be ridden by Joel Rosario, who replaces Ricardo Santana Jr.
Trainer Steve Asmussen says he decided to go with Rosario because the jockey won last year’s Kentucky Derby aboard Orb.