Twenty-Four-year-old Derrick Gordon, the first openly gay Division I NCAA player, has announced that instead of pursuing a career in the NBA, he will train as a firefighter in San Francisco where he currently resides. An enormously positive spirited young man, we wish the best for him in whatever endeavor he pursues.
The news came on his social media accounts late last month with the statement:
I’ve had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way…But I’m making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I’m excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!
I've had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way…But I'm making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I'm excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!
Just last March, Gordon played for Seton Hall University as a graduate transfer from UMass. His 6th-seeded Seton Hall Pirates were eliminated in the first round of the NCAA March Madness tournament in a 68-52 upset by 11th-seeded Gonzaga. Regardless, Derrick Gordon made history again by becoming the first openly gay player in the history of the tournament.
This decision to become a firefighter came as a big surprise to fans of the young athlete who, up until then, had consistently posted updates about his dream to become an NBA player. Four months ago, Gordon announced his move to San Fransisco and said the following:
San Francisco in 5 days!! Ready to get out there and start pursuing my dreams to the NBA!! #Blessed
So what happened between then and now?
Most namely, the 2016 NBA Draft happened…and, unlike NFL draftee Michael Sam, Derrick Gordon’s name had not been called by a team.
Watching the Draft last night just only made me that much more hungrier….Just waiting on my moment…Until then just continue to GRIND!!
— Derrick Gordon (@flash2gordon) June 24, 2016
While not being selected was disappointing, Gordon still seemed positive and still hopeful. He continued to train and workout 3 times a day to be ready if another opportunity came.
This is what happens when you train 3 times a day and can't wait to lay down and relax 😉😉 pic.twitter.com/1LqplbtrxC
— Derrick Gordon (@flash2gordon) June 29, 2016
He didn’t have to wait long, just one month later he was selected to play before scouts for overseas teams at the Las Vegas Combine.
I can say at the age of 24 I been blessed with alot in my life but alot of hardwork has come with it,and that’s one of the reasons I always smile…Now I have another huge opportunity this weekend at the Las Vegas Combine to show every scout what I can do…The wait is long over!!…Time to handle business!
Happy Friday…I can say at the age of 24 I been blessed with alot in my life but alot of hardwork has come with it,and that's one of the reasons I always smile…Now I have another huge opportunity this weekend at the Las Vegas Combine to show every scout what I can do…The wait is long over!!…Time to handle business!
On July 17th, Gordon announced that the results from the Las Vegas Combine, where he had performed very well, would soon be coming:
Decision Week!!! We shall see what happens!!
— Derrick Gordon (@flash2gordon) July 18, 2016
Results matter….When it's all said and done I just wanna be SUCCESSFUL!! pic.twitter.com/GgzWKiICZm
— Derrick Gordon (@flash2gordon) July 21, 2016
The very next day, Gordon abruptly announced his retirement from basketball altogether.
Had an amazing basketball career but it's time for a change…I will now work to become a San Francisco Firefighter! pic.twitter.com/pIk1yfNWhG
— Derrick Gordon (@flash2gordon) July 22, 2016
So what happened?
Usually very transparent with his followers, Gordon has been unusually silent not only on what the results of the Combine were, but also why he suddenly decided to pursue an entirely different career. How long had he been thinking about this? Was this always his backup plan? Did he give up too soon?
Sure, we could probably just request an interview and ask him (and we likely will still try in the future)…but its more interesting to speculate for now, and the answers are likely self explanatory.
The clues are provided in the subtext of Gordon’s own word. On May 12th, over a month before the NBA Draft, Gordon tweeted this:
No NBA combine invite…No worries, Just waiting on my moment…Until then, I will continue to GRIND day in and day out!!
— Derrick Gordon (@flash2gordon) May 12, 2016
Again, notice how consistently positive this dope young man is at all times, even in the face of bad news.
But then he started posting vague messages like:
“Everything happens for a reason!” – May 18th
“I will never change of being the person that I am…I am who I am…And I’m happy with who I am…” – May 21st
“Only control what you can control…Everything happens for a reason..The past cannot be changed, forgotten, edited or erased; it can only be accepted.” – May 27th
Had Derrick heard whispers that his decision to publicly announce his sexuality had already quashed his dream to play in the NBA? The supposedly aggressively gay-tolerant NBA? The same pro-LGBTQ NBA that moved the 2017 All-Star Game from North Carolina due to its’ anti-Transgender bathroom laws?
It appears very possible.
A couple nights before the NBA Draft, Gordon tweeted this:
Just had an emotional phone conversation with my mom.Being judged and not getting fair opportunity on making my dreams happen.It Hurts Alot!
— Derrick Gordon (@flash2gordon) June 22, 2016
Wow. If this is the case, I definitely feel for the young man. To work so hard for something and be totally looked over due to something as positive as who you love. On top of that, in coming Out, Derrick Gordon has likely helped more people than he would have in becoming a random 10th man on an NBA team. As recently as April 2016 he said this:
Receiving emails from people telling me that I stopped them from killing themselves…PRICELESS…Honored to have that affect on the world!!
— Derrick Gordon (@flash2gordon) April 6, 2016
From the first time I saw his coming out video, I’ve been impressed and supportive of Derrick Gordon. As I shared back in 2014, I was emotionally affected by his story and how similar it was to my own in some ways. A part of me is even slightly envious of him as well. He’s far more progressed and open with his sexuality than I was at his age…and in many ways, more than I am even at my current age.
This (speculated) story of his NBA dream ending is (possible) evidence that his decision to come Out did not come without major consequences. But it appears that he’s taking it all with stride, enjoying his youth and social life, and is looking forward, not backwards with the support of his mother, friends and thousands of fans/supporters.
In his own words, days after deciding to become a firefighter:
“At the end of the day I can say I have NO REGRETS!!”
At the end of the day I can say I have NO REGRETS!! pic.twitter.com/AWunDYbWZz
— Derrick Gordon (@flash2gordon) July 25, 2016