Matthew Shepard's family was in attendance for the Nets' game in Denver Thursday night, and Collins met them after the game and gave them a token: a signed jersey.
"I got them a bucket," the Brooklyn Nets' center said with a chuckle. "And of course, I had what, like three, four, five fouls. So, I did my usual fouls and I got them a bucket. And a free throw."
Shepard's parents were happy to finally meet with Jason. "It was great," said Judy Shepard, who had spoken with Collins by phone last year after Collins announced he was gay and wore number 98 because of her son. "It was all great. He's very kind, smart, humble. It was delightful."
She added that the jersey was "very sweet, very genuine, and very thoughtful."
And even though Collins' story has drawn national attention, Matthew's father Dennis says the day in which this is a routine occurrence is a day he's looking forward to:
"There should be no publicity over this. It should be just an ordinary every day thing, like the military now," he said. "That's what we're hoping for soon."
Personally, I find the story very touching, especially since I remember reading the story of Matthew Sheppard when I was in high school, and how deeply in affected me both as a human being and as a man moving forward. I agree with Dennis, but I don't think there's any harm in pausing to reflect on how far we've come as a society, and the lengths in which we still have to go.
With that said, Collins is now on the scoresheet, and that's a welcome sign. The Nets' performance on the inside has been so Jekyll and Hyde lately that anything that stabilizes them will help. Thus far, it appears -- in his specific role -- Collins could Brooklyn even out that inconsistency.