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. Me

    I forget, did he ever call the families of any of our dead servicemen or ambassadors?

    April 29, 2013 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  2. BC

    This is a non-story if I ever read one. The only people who care are politicians looking to cash in on either side of the fence, the LGBTyadayada folks, and news organizations like CNN looking to avoid real news. Oh, and religious bigots. Can't forget them. More power to him, his lifestyle is his and everyone else has theirs. I have no issues.

    April 29, 2013 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  3. Heebeejeebee

    what's next? gay astronaut? so. Please CNN, shut up about this already.

    April 29, 2013 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  4. DustyOnes

    Oh for Christ sake....work on employment and a budget putz.

    April 29, 2013 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  5. mark harris

    Dam all the things going on in America this guy get a call from you... like he needs it. I guess you don't need working people are there vote anymore.

    April 29, 2013 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  6. Rickapolis

    It's important for the president to show moral leadership. And that is exactly what he did here. Well done.

    April 29, 2013 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  7. lagergeld

    Really? Obama phoning a guy because he said "I'm gay" is more newsworthy than a mass-murdering abortion doctor?

    THIS is CNN.

    April 29, 2013 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  8. joe pain

    Why can't the president stay out of this issue.I voted for him,sometimes I wonder why he wants to promote an immoral act as such,why the republican hyppocrites have been keeping their mouths shut.

    April 29, 2013 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  9. gman

    Celebs coming out of the closet merits a call from the President? Was it a case of him being gay, or being a black gay?

    April 29, 2013 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  10. blakenaustin

    Very interesting that you find nothing about government threats against a Benghazi whistle blower on any of the far left media sites (including CNN), but a gay NBA player is headline news. Hmmm.

    April 29, 2013 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  11. Mark

    I do not call this story "Breaking News' that Obama called the guy. Obama does ANYTHING to get publicity.

    April 29, 2013 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  12. Peter

    Gays in the military? Who cares....as long as they can shoot straight! Gays in sports? Who cares? Its about winning on a particular venue be it the basketball court,baseball field or football field. The world is largely more accepting than it was as recently as 10 years ago. We certainly have far bigger issues to concern ourselves with in this country.
    Unemployment,terrorism, gun control issues etc....

    April 29, 2013 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  13. daniel h

    this shows just how far we have fallen as a country.
    from where we started

    April 29, 2013 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  14. DEM Winners

    I am like H Reid, "It is not my business what they do with hteir lifes" However, it is my business if the President thinks he has no important issues to grow more grey hair than this.

    April 29, 2013 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  15. Travler06

    I wonder how many families of injured and dead Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines the POTUS and FLOTUS have called to express their support to over the last 5 years?

    April 29, 2013 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  16. Newport Pagnell

    I announced I was hetero 10 years ago and I'm still wating for my call.

    April 29, 2013 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  17. Mountainsboyca

    So the president gets on the phone for a basketball player that has no lives hanging in the balance...but won't pick up the phone for Kim or Assad....hmmm

    April 29, 2013 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  18. CaesarXIII

    You know what the best thing about NOT being gay is? Giving life to a child and holding it in your arms knowing it's your blood. There's a "Breaking News" article for Crappy News Network. When two gay couples can make a child together without the means of a science experiment let me know.

    April 29, 2013 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  19. Steve S

    Being Gay, ain't gonna make him any less of an NBA ballplayer.

    April 29, 2013 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  20. JR

    Hey, I'm strait and I don't need a phone call from the Perez to make me feel confident in my life choice!!!

    April 29, 2013 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  21. reality check

    How are the victims of the Boston bombings doing?

    April 29, 2013 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  22. Walter

    Breaking News!! Breaking News!! Did someone cure cancer? Is the civil war in Syria over? No, Obo The Clown made a phone call. Stop the presses. Although when it comes to CNN, I would like them to stop the presses.

    April 29, 2013 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  23. Redeye Dog

    The obvious priorities of this administration is to support anything, ANYTHING which will bring in votes.. Sad state of affairs..

    April 29, 2013 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  24. Bob

    I don't get it. Why is "coming out" such a big deal these days? Is anyone still shocked anymore?

    April 29, 2013 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  25. Michael Wiese

    Obama must hate straight people...or something.......

    April 29, 2013 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
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