Retired basketball star, Tim Hardaway Sr’s career is quite remarkable. Highlights include five appearances on the NBA All Star Team and an Olympic Gold Medal. After retiring in 2003, he went on to become a coach for the Florida Pit Bulls and later the Detroit Pistons. However, he is most often remembered for his infamous anti-gay remarks in an interview in February 2007 on a Miami Radio show in which he stated…

‘You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don’t like gay people and I don’t like to be around gay people, he told host Dan Le Batard. ”I am homophobic. I don’t like it. It shouldn’t be in the world or in the United States.”

The rant came about following recently retired NBA player John Amaechi coming out as gay. As the interview continued on, he was asked how he felt about having a gay teammate…

‘First of all, I wouldn’t want him on my team. And second of all, if he was on my team, I would really distance myself from him because I don’t think that’s right,“ he said. “And you know I don’t think he should be in the locker room while we’re in the locker room. I wouldn’t even be a part of that,“

Later that day, he apologized for his remarks during a phone interview with a local TV news station in Miami and again in an official statement released by his agent the following week. But by then, the damage was already done. Hardaway Sr was banned from the All-Star festivities and his employer Trinity Sports canned him from his job as Chief Basketball Operations Adviser and further distanced themselves from Hardaway Sr.

Since then, Hardaway Sr has made a legitimate effort to apologize, correct his mistakes, be more proactive to educate himself and be involved with the LGBTI community. Later in a September 2007 interview he stated

“I had no idea how much I hurt people. A lot of people,” he said. “I’m going to do whatever I can to correct it. That’s all I can do.”

Since then, he has attended many LGBTI inclusive events, including pro-same sex marriage events in 2013 as well as actively and publicly supporting Jason Collins, the first NBA player to come out while active in the sport. He’s been attending workshops, seminars and been active with local groups, non-profits and organizations in Florida and his hometown of El Paso, Texas. He’s been an outspoken proponent of pro LGBTI policies and legislation.

A lot of Hardaway’s journey of education and self-reflection has been in private, but it shows that he has come a long way from that infamous interview. He has grown a lot since then and made steps to correct his mistakes.

Five times now, Tim Hardaway Sr has been a finalist for the NBA Hall of Fame but has never made the cut. A reason Hardaway believes is because of that infamous interview from 2007. In an interview with Hoops Hype he explained…

The reason I’m not in is because of what I said in 2007 about gay people. That’s why I’m not in right now, and I understand it,” Hardaway shared. ”I hurt a lot of people’s feelings and it came off the wrong way and it was really bad of me to say that. Since then, I’ve turned a wrong into a right.”

“My parents used to always tell me: ‘If you do something wrong, look it in the eye. Don’t back down from it and be scared of it. Go make it right and make people understand that you made a mistake.’ And that’s what I did.”

“I’m trying to do what’s right, supporting gay people and transgender people. I want people to understand and understand them as people. They shouldn’t be seen as “other” people. You shouldn’t call them or look at them all ugly. Those are people too.”

‘They should get to live their lives just like we live our lives and that means having freedom and having fun,’ he said.

Tim Hardaway Sr has come a long way since 2007. And in an era where several other athletes, actors and politicians  have been outspoken with their homophobia, transphobia and general discrimination, including publicly raising money for anti-gay organizations. It is refreshing to see Hardaway Sr take the time to educate himself to overcome the hate and ignorance. He has grown and matured, and he deserves a chance at redemption by finally getting his place in the Hall of Fame.

By Dirk Smith