NEW YORK -- NBA veteran Jason Collins became the first active male player in the four major American professional sports to come out as gay. After the announcement, fellow players, world leaders and those in the sports industry reacted to Collins' announcement.
The 34-year-old center, who has played for six teams in 12 seasons, wrote a first-person account that was posted on Sports Illustrated's website Monday. Collins finished the season with the Washington Wizards and is now a free agent. He says he wants to keep playing.
"If I had my way, someone else would have already done this," he writes. "Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand."
Collins played in a Final Four for Stanford and reached two NBA Finals. His twin brother, Jarron, was also a longtime NBA center. Collins says he told his brother he was gay last summer.
"Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue," NBA Commissioner David Stern said in a statement.
The Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld released this statement: "We are extremely proud of Jason and support his decision to live his life proudly and openly. He has been a leader on and off the court and an outstanding teammate throughout his NBA career. Those qualities will continue to serve him both as a player and as a positive role model for others of all sexual orientation."
The White House is commending Collins.
White House spokesman Jay Carney called that decision courageous and says the White House supports Collins. He says he hopes the 34-year-old center's NBA colleagues will also offer support.
"We view that as another example of the progress that has been made and the evolution that has been taking place in this country," Carney said.
Former President Bill Clinton is asking fans and colleagues of NBA player Jason Collins to support and respect him.
Clinton said in a statement Monday that he has known Collins since he attended Stanford University with his daughter Chelsea. He says Collins' announcement posted on Sports Illustrated's website is an "important moment" for professional sports.
He said Collins is "a good man who wants no more than what so many of us seek -- to be able to be who we are, to do our work, to build families and to contribute to our communities."
Chelsea Clinton also tweeted her support for Collins Monday.
On Twitter, professional athletes, friends and commentators in the sports industry sounded off in support for Collins.
I'm proud to call Jason Collins a friend. wjcf.co/154piCi— Bill Clinton (@billclinton) April 29, 2013
We salute you, @jasoncollins34 for your courage and leadership. Any time you want to throw out a first pitch at Fenway Park, let us know.— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) April 29, 2013
Very proud of my friend Jason Collins for having the strength & courage to be the first openly gay player in the NBA. bit.ly/ZLei9F— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) April 29, 2013
Bravo, @jasoncollins34! Thanks for stepping up. For standing tall. And at 7 feet, that's saying a lot.— Neil Patrick Harris (@ActuallyNPH) April 29, 2013
Jason Collins Breaks a Barrier. But Will He Find Another N.B.A. Job? nyti.ms/Y90PGF— Nate Silver (@fivethirtyeight) April 29, 2013
Read more tweets about Collins' announcement here.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press and WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)