Jason Collins Says 'Huge Weight' Lifted After Becoming First Openly Gay Major Pro Athlete


"But once you have that big talk with whoever that is in your family and you get that support, you get that love, you know the rest of it is kind of downhill from there," he said.

Standing at 7-feet tall, 255 pounds, Collins said he goes against the typical gay stereotype. He's known for his aggressive play and committing hard fouls.

"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. You can't just say that, 'He's gay. He acts this way,'" Collins said.

In the Sports Illustrated article, Collins mentions that his loyalty to his teammates held him back from coming out sooner because he didn't want to be a distraction to them. To Collins, the team's well-being comes first.

But Collins made a discreet statement for gay rights during his career. He wore No. 98 with the Celtics and Wizards; 1998 was year that Matthew Shepard, a gay college student in Wyoming, was killed, and the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention organization, was founded.

"Every time I put on that jersey I was already making that statement to myself," Collins said.

After the article was published Monday, Collins received tremendous support for his announcement from the White House, the NBA and current and former teammates.

"It's incredible. You just try to live an honest, genuine life and next thing you know you have the president calling you," Collins said.

"[President Obama] was incredibly supportive and he was proud of me. And said that this not only affected my life, but others going forward," he said.

Los Angeles Lakers Stars Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash were just a few in sports community showing their support for Collins.

Collins understands he's a target and, along with the well-wishers, there are those who do not condone homosexuality.

ESPN sportscaster Chris Broussard cited Christianity in his opinion.

"If you're openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says you know them by their fruits. It says that, you know, that's a sin," Broussard said Monday on ESPN's "Outside the Lines."

In a full statement posted on Twitter, Broussard said, "I realize that some people disagree with my opinion and I accept and respect that. As has been the case in the past, my beliefs have not and will not impact my ability to report on the NBA. I believe Jason Collins displayed bravery with his announcement today and I have no objection to him or anyone else playing in the NBA."

Collins realizes that his decision to come out isn't going to please everyone.

"I'm being honest, so if that means that I'm upsetting people, you know, there are a lot of other people in this world are being completely honest and you can't please everyone. You just try to live your life by your values and go about your business," he said.

He said he hopes his coming out doesn't negatively affect his family.

"That's the one major drawback; if there's any kind of negative effect on my family," he said.

Throughout the entire interview, Collins kept bringing the focus back to basketball rather than sexual orientation. When asked whether he had a message for a young boy who is striving for a career in the NBA and trying to grapple with his homosexuality, Collins once again cited basketball first.

"Keep working hard. It shouldn't matter. And it doesn't matter that you're gay, but the key thing is that it's about basketball. It's about working hard," Collins said. "It's all about dedication. And that's what you should focus on."

Other gay athletes, including former NBA player John Amaechi, waited until retirement to announce their sexuality publically.

Collins' announcement comes after Brittney Griner, a top college basketball player now headed to the WNBA, said this month she is a lesbian.

In February, former U.S. soccer national team player Robbie Rogers, 25, said he was gay, and retired at the same time.

FULL TRANSCRIPT: George Stephanopoulos Interviews Jason Collins

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