Former UTEP, NBA star Tim Hardaway supports same-sex unions in Florida
Tim Hardaway, who in 2007 made waves for his anti-gay statements, became the first person to sign a petition Wednesday to repeal a 2008 Florida amendment banning same-sex unions.
Hardaway signed the Equal Marriage Florida petition at a public ceremony Wednesday night at a Miami tavern alongside EMF organizer Vanessa Brito.
"If true, this gladdens my heart tremendously," actor and gay rights advocate George Takei wrote on his Facebook page. "I once 'called out' NBA star Tim Hardaway for his homo-hating ways. And now he has become an ally. People indeed do change if you give them a chance and keep open dialogue."
In late April, James Collins was the first active NBA player to come out as gay which led a lot of people on Twitter wondering what Hardaway thought of Collins' announcement.
"I'm happy for him. I know he hid it for a long time, but now he doesn’t have to hide it anymore," Hardaway told the Palm Beach Post in April regarding Collins' announcement. "He is who he is and everybody’s got to accept him for who he is.”
Hardaway was criticized nationally in 2007 after he made an anti-gay rant on a Miami radio show.
Hardaway told the Palm Beach Post in late April that what he said in 2007 was terrible.
"...It was bad and I live with it every day. It was like a bully going to beat up people every day. … They’re people just like we’re people. Let them live their lives just like we live our lives," Hardaway told the Palm Beach Post.
In Aug. 2011, Hardaway was a completely different person from the one in 2007 and was in El Paso to show support for the "No Recall" group that was formed to try and provoke a change of heart for those who oppose health benefits for gay and unmarried partners of City of El Paso employees.
"It's not right to not let the gays and lesbians have equal rights here," Hardaway said in El Paso in 2011 when he pledged his support to the "No Recall" group.
Hardaway has been working with gay rights groups in Miami since 2007.
"If I know El Paso, like they came together when the 1966 team won a championship and Don Haskins started those five guys, I know the city will grow and understand that gays and lesbians need equal rights," Hardaway said.
Hardaway told ABC-7 in 2011 his "change of heart" came from those closest to him.
"My family and friends came to me and was like, 'what are you doing?' I talked to them and they made me understand that wasn't right," he said. "
While some people still think the anti-gay rant is his legacy, Hardaway doesn't.
"But you know what, everybody thinks that's my legacy. That's not my legacy, my legacy is the UTEP 2-step," Hardaway said in 2011.
Hardaway was a finalist for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in early April but was not selected for induction. His son, Tim Hardaway Jr., was selected by the New York Knicks in the NBA Draft in June.
Copyright 2016 KVIA. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.