Transcript for Jason Collins: Obama 'Incredibly Supportive' of Coming Out
Right to george in los angeles. You spoke with a man so many are talking about this morning. Good morning, george. Boy, they are, robin. You know, that announcement from jason collins that surprise yesterday shattered stereotypes in the macho world of pro sports. When he went online monday morning you could feel the explosion everywhere. The 12-year nba veteran told me this was not the kind of spotlight he sought but now that he's made the announcement he says he's never been happier. The president called him immediately to offer support. I flew out here, met with him last night. It was an emotional, revealing interview. He's been a net, a hawk, a grizzly, a timber wolf and a wizard, a 7'tall, 255-pound bruiser who fought his way through 90 playoff game including back-to-back finals with the nets, tough, respected, a true team player, but never a household name like kobe, shaq, LeBRON UNTIL NOW. Jason collins is making history with t simple words, "i'm a 34-year-old nba center. I'm black. And I'm gay." And all the emotions stirred up by his announcement were catching up with him when I sat down with him in los angeles. You always knew you were gay? Yeah, it's -- I sort of describe it as you know that the sky is blue but you keep telling yourself that it's red. You fought it. Yes, in the beginning. I think they call it like the 12 steps, you know, you go through anger, denial and it's just -- but when you finally get to that point of acceptance, there's nothing more beautiful than just allowing yourself to really be happy and be comfortable in your own skin. So you send this thunderbolt out into the world. Yeah. 12 hours later, how does it feel? It's incredible. You just try to live a genuine life and next thing you know you have the president calling you. What did he say? He was incredibly supportive and he was proud of me and said that this not only affected my life but others going forward. Martina navratilova said this is going to save some kids' lives? You know, I look at her as one of my heroes, the dignity and the class that she's lived her life and all that she's achieved. She is my role model. Hopefully going forward I can be someone else's role model. What do you say to the 12-year-old boy out there practicing right now, wants to be a pro ball player and happens to be gay. It doesn't matter that you're gay bu the key thing is that it's about basketball. It's about working hard. It's about sacrificing for your team. It's all about dedication and that's what you should focus on. One of the things you write is that actually loyalty to your teammates is one of the things that held you back. Yes. From making this announcement. You don't want to be -- that distraction because for me it's always been about the team and -- but I think -- well, i know in m personal life I'm ready and I think the country is ready for supporting an openly gay basketball player. Can you believe it hasn't happened before you? That's kind of mind boggling. I never set out to be the first, and it's -- you know, obviously you're sort of waiting around for somebody else to, you know, raise their hand and, you know, I'm ready to raise my hand but you know you still look around like, okay, come on guys. Phil jackson says he's never met a gay player in the nba. Have you? Not that I know of. I don't know of any other gay players in the nba. Kobe bryant tweeted that he was proud of you today too. That was incredible. All the support has been overwhelming. As collins kept his secret he sent a small signal of unity to the gay community choosing to wear number 98 to honor matthew shepard. The gay teenager from wyoming kidnapped and killed in a brutal hate crime in 1998. Each time I put on jersey 98, this past season, I was already sort of having that moment with myself, with my family, with my friends who knew the significance of why I picked that number. Jersey 98 for matthew shepard. Jersey 98 for matthew shepard. That's why I wore jersey 98, so -- and also to mess with the rest. But, you know, the primary reason was every time I put on that jersey I was already making that statement to myself. You do foul a lot. You're a hard player. Yes, I -- you know, I bring that physical toughness, physical attitude and, you know, it's part of the game. As you write, it goes against the gay stereotype. That stereo -- yeah, that gay stereotype, you know what, i think that people like me are trying to rewrite -- people like me are trying to rewrite that stereotype and trying to let people know that you can't just put people in a box. As jason said it is all about the basketball. He's going to work hard all summer long to get picked up by another nba team and, robin, you know, he confessed to me when he walks out on to that court he knows the pressure is going to be on but he has no idea how it's going to feel to be the first openly gay player to actually play in an nba game but the way has handled himself thus far just so incredibly impressive.
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