Obama welcomes announcement from Jason Collins
April 29th, 2013
11:54 AM ET
10 years ago

Obama welcomes announcement from Jason Collins

(CNN) – NBA center Jason Collins' Monday essay in "Sports Illustrated" revealing he's gay was met with praise from President Barack Obama and the first lady.

The president called Collins "to express his support and said he was impressed by his courage," a White House official told CNN.

First lady Michelle Obama also showed her support for Collins on Twitter.

Asked earlier in the day if the White House had a comment, Press Secretary Jay Carney highlighted Collins' decision as "progress."

"I can certainly tell you that here at the White House we view that as another example of the progress that has been made and the evolution that has been taking place in this country and commend him for his courage and support him in his, in this effort and hope that his fans and his team support him going forward," Carney said during the daily press briefing.

Collins also received praise from his classmate at Stanford, Chelsea Clinton.

Her father, former President Bill Clinton, echoed the sentiment in a statement of his own, distributed soon after the article went online.

"I have known Jason Collins since he was Chelsea's classmate and friend at Stanford. Jason's announcement today is an important moment for professional sports and in the history of the LGBT community," Clinton wrote. "It is also the straightforward statement of 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."

"For so many members of the LGBT community, these simple goals remain elusive. I hope that everyone, particularly Jason's colleagues in the NBA, the media and his many fans extend to him their support and the respect he has earned," he continued.

Collins, who played for the Boston Celtics this season before being traded to the Washington Wizards, wrote in his essay that U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, helped prompt his decision to come out as gay. Kennedy and Collins were roommates at Stanford.

Collins recounts hearing about Kennedy – who is not gay - marching in Boston's Gay Pride Parade.

"I'm seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy," he wrote. "I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn't even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator. If I'd been questioned, I would have concocted half truths."

Kennedy wrote in a statement Monday, ""For as long as I've known Jason Collins he has been defined by three things: his passion for the sport he loves, his unwavering integrity, and the biggest heart you will ever find. Without question or hesitation, he gives everything he's got to those of us lucky enough to be in his life. I'm proud to stand with him today and proud to call him a friend."

CNN's Mark Preston, Jake Tapper, Brianna Keilar and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Filed under: Bill Clinton • Chelsea Clinton
soundoff (205 Responses)
  1. sly

    We need more strong, intelligent and good men like Jason.

    Congratulations! A huge move forward for the sports world.

    April 29, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  2. Jon

    This has gotten old months ago, people all of a sudden "coming out" and getting a pat on the back. It's like media doesn't have much else to do. What people do or are is none of my business or anyone elses

    April 29, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  3. Ram

    Smart move by Collins. As a free agent, he can either bank that a team will pick him up as a statement of solidarity with the gay rights movement thus throwing a warm and fuzzy to their fans, or if he doesn't get picked up, he will find someone to file a discrimination suit against. Win/win for him, plus the PR engendered by outlets by CNN here.

    April 29, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  4. blake

    The Democrats and the far left media rejoice. What a perverted set of values.

    April 29, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  5. Wizard Fan

    I think it's a lot braver to admit to being a Washington Wizard than it is to admit to being gay in the NBA.

    April 29, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  6. Donnie the Lion

    Good for Jason Collins...not easy to do this, hope it makes it easier for the athletes who do the same in the near future.

    April 29, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  7. Repubocrat

    I sooo look forward to the day when this is not considered news.

    April 29, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  8. tv22

    Leave it to the Clintons to capitalize on this. They will stop at nothing when it comes to self-promotion.

    April 29, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  9. e

    Good for him, no doubt there will be many horrendous things said to him in recent months from people who have no problem with Michael Vick murdering and torturing dogs but will claim that an openly gay athlete is somehow a bad influence on our precious youth...

    April 29, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  10. John Neff

    Why I am suppose to cheer if someone comes out and says they are gay! I am straight and have two kids can I get on the front page of CNN for that??

    April 29, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  11. Doc1

    Who cares man. Just play basketball. Hey, I think I'll go to work tomorrow and announce to all of my co-workers that I'm heterosexual. This seems to be so freakin' important these days.

    April 29, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  12. rr

    watch out for the slam dunk now with alot more passion

    April 29, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  13. DR

    Thank you Jason for the strength, courage and straight forwardness. Thanks also for the support of your friends Chelsea, Bill and Joes for standing beside you in what had to be a very difficult decision; especially as a black man.

    April 29, 2013 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  14. John from Brooklyn

    Jon...you're right...coming out has become so frequent in recent years that, in your words, it's "gotten old". And we should be thrilled. It's wonderful that one's sexual orientation has become such a non-issue to a majority of Americans that coming out – once a horrifically difficult process that often tore families and ended careers – is now...well...boring. Mind you, gay folks still don't have it easy and, in most states, still live with abbreviated civil liberties to even create a family of their own. I pray for the day – and am encouraged by the belief that it will be soon – when engagement announcements in newspapers of same sex people will be equally yawn-invoking.

    April 29, 2013 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  15. Esaias

    He says he wants to do the right thing. If he is serious he will stop engaging in sinful homosexual acts. That's right America, homosexual acts are sinful. Even my 4-year old knows this, it's amazing that many adults don't.

    April 29, 2013 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  16. CoachP


    Yeah, being able to openly love who you want to and not be mocked, bullied, be murdered for it – what a perverted set of values! Not to mention all the discriminatory laws we have here in "Merica."

    Gee, and I thought there was some little document that says, "All men are created equal." I guess I just imagined it.

    April 29, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  17. Scott

    Maybe he join Obama and Reggie Love for a little pick up game!

    April 29, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  18. Tony

    A lot of players now will not want to turn their backs to Jason why didn't he just stay in.

    April 29, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  19. Mr. Hand

    Good for him I guess, but would have been more impressive/significant if he had done it at the beginning of his career and not at the end. And I would hand hime the title of first active opnely gay player yet; he still has to make a team next fall.

    April 29, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  20. Middle Aged Gay

    @Jon when you introduced a girl friend to your parents...was that nobody's business? When you take your girl friend/wife to a dinner party...is that nobody's business? It's just a normal part of life for you that is taken for granted.

    April 29, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  21. james of the house

    Jason, a leader among hiders.. good for you sir!
    Where's the domino's as another house of cards fall.

    April 29, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  22. John

    Seems like a good guy. That took guts.

    April 29, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  23. Middle Aged Gay

    @Esaias your 4 year old doesn't know this...he was taught it.

    April 29, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  24. mysliwij

    To all of you saying "who cares?, "this is news?" or " I am straight and have two kids can I get on the front page of CNN for that??": You merely show your obtuseness, your lack of compassion and lack of intelligence with these comments. This IS news. HUGE news. What you mean to say is "I don't want to hear about gay people anymore". Well, you're going to. These articles and pride parades happen because of one group of people and ONE group alone: Straights who refuse to accept equality. There are no parades/news articles for left handed people because nobody is trying to deny them marriage, legalize their discrimination or condemn them to hell for simply being born the way they are. You don't want to read about this? Then make it a country where being gay is tantamount to being left handed. Problem solved.

    April 29, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  25. Ram

    @Coach P-

    No one cared if Collins was gay. He's been in the league for years. Now, he wants all of us to know it and pat him on the back for it. He (Collins) is making it an issue.

    April 29, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
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