Rick Welts, first openly gay professional sports team executive, resigns

Rick Welts

Rick Welts

Rick Welts, who just four months ago came out — becoming the first openly gay senior executive of a professional sports team — has announced he is resigning his position as Phoenix Sun President and Chief Executive Officer.

Rick Welts

Welts told the Arizona Republic this week that he is leaving “the best job in sports” to focus on his personal life, and spend time with his partner, who lives in Sacramento.

“The most important thing for me is to get my personal and professional lives better aligned,” Welts said. “They’ve probably never been aligned. I’m 58 years old and it’s time to do that.


“This has been an incredibly personally gratifying experience, going through that and reaching a different part of my life where I’m able to share 100 percent of my life with people I work with instead of 95 percent,” Welts said.

“There’s a great sense of satisfaction and freedom in that. What I’m doing is uncharacteristic of Rick Welts. Leaving one of the best jobs in sports to go figure out what’s next is something I never would’ve done a year ago or five years ago or 10 years ago. Personally, there is a level of confidence and that I can figure it out and the future is going to be terrific. I’m just in a different place.”

Welts, 58, has spent 40 years in sports, rising from ball boy to NBA executive to team president.

When he came out in May in a revealing profile in The New York Times, Welts shared intimate details about being a closeted gay man in professional sports, the death of his partner from AIDS complications, and the ending of another 14-year relationship due to living life in the shadows.

Welts said he may write a book and make some speaking engagements.

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