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John Amaechi is not your typical basketball star. The former center for Utah, Orlando and Cleveland is the first NBA alumnus to openly declare that he's gay, and now he's combining sports and cultural politics in another sense by serving as Amnesty International's sports ambassador to this summer's Beijing Olympics.

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John Amaechi has become the first current or former NBA player to come out of the closet, and only the sixth such professional athlete from the four major American sports to do so. The former center for Orlando, Utah and Cleveland has written a memoir in which he describes life in the NBA as he started to open up about his sexuality, including mixed reactions from his team's owner, coach and players.

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