NBA center Jason Collins became a trailblazer Monday (April 29) when he came out of the closet, making him the first active athlete in any of the four major professional U.S. sports to say that he is gay.
Collins tells “Good Morning America” that “a huge weight has been lifted.”
“I hope that every player makes a decision that leads to their own happiness,” says Collins. “I know that I, right now, am the happiest that I’ve ever been in my life. A huge weight has been lifted. I’ve already been out to my family and my friends, but just to, you know, sort of rip the Band-Aid off and come out on my own terms.”
“It’s time for someone else in the room to raise their hand and say, ‘You know what? Yeah, so big deal. I can still play basketball. I can still help the team win, and that’s what’s most important,'” Collins continues.
Following the Sports Illustrated article in which Collins announced that he’s gay, he tells “GMA” that he has received great support from current and former NBA teammates and even the White House.
“It’s incredible. You just try to live an honest, genuine life and next thing you know you have the president calling you. [President Obama] was incredibly supportive and he was proud of me. And said that this not only affected my life, but others going forward,” says Collins.
Collins also had a message for young boys who might be thinking about sports but also are gay.
“Keep working hard. It shouldn’t matter,” says Collins. “And it doesn’t matter that you’re gay, but the key thing is that it’s about basketball. It’s about working hard. It’s all about dedication. And that’s what you should focus on.”