In his Sports Illustrated editorial, Jason Collins wrote he wore the number 98 in 38 games this season while playing for the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards as a silent tribute to Matthew Shepard, who was beaten and left to die outside Laramie, Wyo. in October 1998.
“My one small gesture of solidarity was to wear jersey number 98 with the Celtics and then the Wizards. The number has great significance to the gay community. One of the most notorious antigay hate crimes occurred in 1998. Matthew Shepard, a University of Wyoming student, was kidnapped, tortured and lashed to a prairie fence. He died five days after he was finally found.That same year the Trevor Project was founded. This amazing organization provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention to kids struggling with their sexual identity. Trust me, I know that struggle. I’ve struggled with some insane logic. When I put on my jersey I was making a statement to myself, my family and my friends.”
The Huffington Post carries a story about this: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/30/jason-collins-matthew-shepard-tribute-_n_3187211.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular