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Monday, March 12, 2007
Amaechi will represent HeadBlade Inc.

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Former NBA player John Amaechi became the first openly gay male athlete to sign an endorsement deal with a mainstream company.

HeadBlade Inc., creators of a popular head-shaving razor, announced Monday it had signed Amaechi to a multiyear deal. Financial terms were undisclosed.

"I think it's fantastic that HeadBlade has approached me to endorse the brand,'' said Amaechi in a statement.

Amaechi became the first NBA player to acknowledge his homosexuality with the release of his memoir, "Man in the Middle" in February. The book is currently on The New York Times Best Seller List.

Concern about endorsement deals is one reason some male athletes stay in the closet during their careers.

"John Amaechi is the newest face of the brand because he embodies many of the qualities representative of a HeadBlader," HeadBlade chief executive Todd Greene said. "He is a man comfortable in his own skin and he's not afraid to go against the grain."

Amaechi grew up in England and played over five seasons for Cleveland, Orlando and Utah. He retired in 2004.