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"Of course, I have a whole journey -- everybody does in life. I don't like to be, not necessarily 'gossiped' about but the topic of conversations." Bird knows people might assume that her relationship with Rapinoe, who has long been involved in LGBTQ activism, is what prompted her to speak out now. "This actually has nothing to do with Megan, in terms of how free I feel to talk about it," Bird says. I chickened out." She later overheard a reporter talking to one of her Olympic teammates, Elena Delle Donne, about having recently come out. And Bird is pleased that the WNBA has in recent years embraced LGBTQ pride as an initiative and reached out to LGBTQ fans -- something the league didn't do in Bird's early years as a pro.

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I love and respect that about her." Indeed, now Bird is more fully voicing her heart, her experience, her views, her truth."I just never felt that calling, if that's the right word.I was living my life, just not necessarily leading the charge."But, actually, I enjoy that people don't have to worry about me. "You're probably never going to know if something bad is happening in my life.I think I was just made that way." Sue Bird is in her 15th season with the Seattle Storm.The Long Island girl has grown into a woman who has traveled the globe and has elevated her consciousness.

"She just has this way of expressing her opinion: She doesn't shut anybody off when she speaks. These aren't secrets to people who know me," Bird says. I think people have this assumption that if you're not talking about it, you must be hiding it, like it's this secret.

"They said that she didn't look devastated, she was interacting with her teammates, living her life about the same as if she hadn't been injured," Herschel Bird remembers. They thought she was taking it too well." Herschel says it's as if Sue has expertly calibrated herself to keep a safe distance from mental or physical burnout. Something she once heard Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski say has stuck with her: The psyche of the best players sometimes is taken for granted because they seem to be fine, even when they're not.

"And I thought, Yeah, those people can get pushed to the side and not worried about," Bird says.

"We have a lot in common and just sort of clicked," Rapinoe says. And Rapinoe has been very vocal in her belief that being out is important because it can help young people with their self-esteem.

"Megan feels really passionately about things," Bird says.

"Where the league is now is appropriate, I think, in terms of support." But the WNBA, Bird says, faces many other challenges. women's soccer team's earlier-than-expected exit at the 2016 Olympics, Rapinoe had time to see other events, including women's basketball.