Sam Gardner of Fox Sports caught up with Matthew Shepard's parents to get their reaction to word that Jason Collins had worn No. 98 with the Celtics and Wizards last season as a quiet tribute to their son. As you might expect, they were quite touched by the gesture.
Dennis and Judy Shepard had never had any contact with Collins before Collins came out yesterday, and they only learned what Collins had done after getting an email from David Smith of the Human Rights Campaign.
“It made me cry,” Judy Shepard told FOXSports.com during an interview Monday afternoon. “It was really quite a tribute, and I was very honored. And I know Matt would be thrilled."
Collins was a 19-year-old sophomore at Stanford in October 1998, just two years younger than Shepard was when he was murdered. Dennis and Judy Shepard said they'd like to have the opportunity someday to thank Collins personally for his tribute.
As Dennis Shepard put it:
“Because, No. 1, he had the courage to come out, period, and No. 2 that he wore 98 in honor of Matt, the year that he died.
“(Collins) couldn’t have been that old (when it happened), so it must have had a tremendous impact on him, the story behind Matt, for him to want to do that. And then to wear it all this time without telling people why until today, that’s incredible.”
You can read the rest of Gardner's piece on his interview with the Shepards here.
Photo credit: Associated Press