Brendan Burke, Young Crusader for Equality in Professional Sports, Dies in Tragic Accident

Brendan Burke, the openly gay son of Toronto Maple Leafs general manager, Brian Burke, died on Saturday after succumbing to injuries he suffered in a weather-related car accident.

Burke, 21, captured international attention after sharing his moving coming out story with mainstream media in 2009.

In “We Love You, This Won’t Change a Thing,” ESPN Staff Writer and anchor John Buccigross recounts Brendan’s story in the second-person narrative:

But, now, telling your secret to Dad is another story. Molly's reassuring hand guides you to the couch for the moment of truth. It's time to tell Dad, a most public example of hockey machismo, that you are gay.

Finally, you say it. Awkwardly. You basically stumble along trying not to make it a big deal before just blurting out, "And I love you guys and wanted to tell you that I'm gay."

There is a brief silence.

Dad is surprised when you tell him that you are gay. He never suspected at all.

Your stepmom speaks first: "OK, Brendan, that's OK." And gives you a reassuring smile. Then your dad says, "Of course, we still love you. This won't change a thing."

GLAAD celebrated ESPN’s report of Brendan’s story in Dec. 2009 and awarded the broadcast giant a spot on our “Best of National News” list. Shortly thereafter, “We Love You, This Won’t Change a Thing” went on to win a 2010 GLAAD Media Award nomination for the article’s superb account of Brendan’s bravery.

GLAAD joins the LGBT community, its allies and sports fans across the nation in mourning the devastating loss of Brendan Burke. Brendan's tremendous courage will continue to inspire families everywhere to love and embrace their gay and lesbian sons and daughters.

Issues: