Austin Reaves’ shirtless photo sparks sexual orientation rumours

NBA star Austin Reaves has become a topic of online discussion, with a shirtless photo of him on TikTok sparking rumours about his sexual orientation. The image, showcasing the Los Angeles Lakers guard with a friend, has triggered a surge of reactions and speculations from fans. This article seeks to investigate the origins of these rumours, exploring any comments or responses from Reaves and how he is handling this unexpected attention. The incident highlights the role social media plays in shaping public perceptions, and the additional challenges athletes face outside of their professional lives.

The rumour mill began churning when a TikTok user, @jakepaulisoverparty, posted a video on December 10, 2023, claiming proof that Reaves was gay. The video displayed a shirtless picture of Reaves with a friend, purportedly sourced from his Snapchat account. The user suggested the photo was a ‘coming out’ announcement and that Reaves had a boyfriend. However, other TikTok users swiftly debunked the video, pointing out that the image was from 2019, during Reaves’ time at the University of Oklahoma. The friend in the photo was identified as Jamal Bieniemy, Reaves’ former teammate, not a romantic partner.

Contrary to the rumours, Reaves is in a happy relationship with his girlfriend, Jenna Barber. The original image was shared by Bieniemy on his Instagram account on June 29, 2019, with the caption “My brother for life”. While Reaves has not directly addressed the rumours, he has clarified his heterosexual orientation. In a conversation with ESPN on December 11, 2023, he confirmed his happiness with his girlfriend and his lack of concern regarding the rumours, maintaining his focus on his basketball career.

Despite the baseless rumours, the shirtless image of Reaves has become a sensation on TikTok. The platform’s users have openly admired his physique and charm, using the photo for memes, challenges, and duets. Some users have even joked about wishing he was gay or pondering their ability to sway his sexual orientation. The influence of the image extends beyond social chatter, boosting Reaves’ popularity and following on TikTok.

In just one week, over 500,000 new followers were added to Reaves’ TikTok account, taking his total follower count to a striking 1.2 million. Reaves uses this platform to share aspects of his life, demonstrating his basketball skills, friendships with teammates, and other talents. This rise in TikTok fame has attracted the attention of prominent figures in the NBA and entertainment industry.

LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Hart, and Drake are among the celebrities and athletes who have endorsed Reaves. Their comments and reposts on TikTok highlight the increasing role of social media in sculpting the narrative and popularity of sports personalities off the court.