Legendary ESPN reporter M.A. Voepel has come out as transgender in a heartfelt statement via social media.

For 20 years, the award-winning reporter has been one of ESPN’s leading journalists for women’s college and pro basketball.

Due to his longstanding work within the sports community, officials for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced that Voepel would be the recipient of the Curt Gowdy Media Award.

However before the forthcoming ceremony, which is set to take place in September, the 48-year-old took to Twitter to open up about their trans identity for the first time.

“In sports media, we’re lucky to tell stories of others’ journeys. We have our own, too. Part of mine is being transgender, and I’m transitioning to male,” Voepel tweeted on 9 August.

“Byline now M.A. Voepel, pronouns he/him. Please feel free to call me Voepel, MV, Michael, Mike; I’m good with them all.”

Voepel then revealed that his coming-out announcement stemmed from him wanting to accept the Curt Gowdy Media Award as his authentic self.

“Fear can keep us paralyzed for decades, especially when we think we will lose all that is dear to us, including career,” he continued.

“At some point, you realize you need to have faith that your happiness/well-being is worth pursuing and also have faith in other people’s kindness and grace.”

Towards the end of his statement, Voepel praised ESPN and his friends and family for supporting him throughout his transition.

“I may look and sound a little different,” he said. “Glad to be who I’ve always been inside. Dedication to covering women’s sports, a lifelong joy as well as job, and admiration for all involved – players, coaches, execs, fans, referees, colleagues – that stays exactly the same. Thanks!”

After Voepel uploaded his heartfelt statement, fans and his ESPN co-workers responded to his tweet with congratulatory messages.

ESPN’s women’s basketball writer Alex Philippou wrote: “Proud to be teammates with you, Voepel.”

In response to Philippou’s tweet, ESPN’S NBA writer Kevin Pelton expressed similar sentiments, writing: “Glad that after compassionately helping so many athletes tell the stories of their authentic selves, you now feel supported to do so yourself ahead of this well-earned moment.”

Congratulations are in order for M.A. Voepel.