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. artfuzzcom

    Good For him for coming out of the closet, sorry Locker, I Predict that this guy will be richer then any other NBA player in history cause he doesn't have to worry about 3 – 10 baby mamas always taking his money... Thats the real reason why Sports Stars carry guns... nothing is scarier then your baby mama when she needs money.

    April 29, 2013 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  2. Tony in St Louis

    I think that the problem that some folks have with our President is that he actually treats people ...like people! After our Bush Jr. fiasco, I think a lot of people were kind of numb. Clinton actually did a great "people" job too, ... but those efforts were lost during the Bush Jr. war years. I would say that some folks don't agree with our President, due to his complexion ...but that's a "secret" that I'll keep to us! God Bless the US and our President!

    April 29, 2013 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  3. RatTrap

    Thats "BREAKING NEWS" ??? slow day at the news front eh CNN ?

    April 29, 2013 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  4. Michael Swartz

    Talk about abusing the "BREAKING NEWS" banner. If CNN keeps this up then it won't be too long before this practice becomes the equivalent of "crying wolf" too many times and the "BREAKING NEWS" banner will lose its effectiveness. The "BREAKING NEWS" banner should only be used for real breaking news, not as some online, tabloid ploy to up their click counts for advertising purposes. The fact that yet another person came out as gay is hardly breaking news.

    April 29, 2013 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  5. Wakeupamerica333

    By the time the left is finished this guy will be their hero! Tim Tebow, not so much.

    April 29, 2013 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  6. KJ

    Ok let me get this right...NBA player comes out of the closet and gets a phone call from the President of the U.S. almost immediately after the story airs?!?! But then we had two ex-Navy SEALs stuck on a rooftop in Benghazi for 6 hours calling for help before they are killed by Terrorists and we turn our backs on them?!?!? Yeah I guess I shouldn't be surprised at anything anymore in this crazy country that I put my life on the line for every day!!!! The SEALs so should have said they were gay right when they called in for help...they would still be here today.

    April 29, 2013 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  7. Dick Smegma

    The Clintons and the Annointed Ones just cannot shut their mouths about anything.

    Hillary would do well to get her act together about Benghazi, the tale of which by her and the prez would not be believed by anyone with two brain cells.

    April 29, 2013 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  8. Bossman

    Yay. Has he bothered to contact the victims of Benghazi?

    Does CNN care?

    April 29, 2013 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  9. BD

    So who cares? We should be paying attention to more important things, like Sarah Palin drinking a Big Gulp.

    April 29, 2013 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  10. charles Gannon

    "Breaking News" CNN has to much "breaking news" lately.

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

    Honestly, this has been top news all day.....what's the big deal? Why did Obama feel it was necessary to call this man to give his support? For crying out loud, with all the more important things going on in the world, THIS was somehow important enough to rank right at the top of the news and warranted a phone call from the president?????

    April 29, 2013 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  12. Daniel

    That took a lot of courage no matter what haters think about it. I am gay, and no, I wouldn't choose this life again. It chose me just like it does with every mammal/animal in the world. However, we are the only creature who recognizes this and are afraid of someone different.

    April 29, 2013 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  13. Dee

    I admire those who have the courage to path the way for others. We support you and are proud of you!

    April 29, 2013 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  14. mike

    did i miss the memo? is it 1980? who cares?

    April 29, 2013 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  15. Oski

    I can accept him being gay...going to stanford is something entirely different.

    April 29, 2013 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  16. mrl

    wow – so our President has time to deal with this... but not unemployment, terrorists, or anything that the average citizen actually gives 2 figs about in the big scheme of things...

    April 29, 2013 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  17. George

    I noticed this is making front line news on CNN. I also noticed that a US cargo plane that crashed in Afganistan killing all crew (7 people) is not even mentioned on CNN but is front line news on BBC. You decide what you want to be.

    April 29, 2013 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  18. Jonus Grumby

    Obama must have solved all of our problems for him to have time to make this phone call.

    April 29, 2013 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  19. Nyamse

    Why is this breaking news? Water is wet..put that on breaking news as well.

    April 29, 2013 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  20. Teddy

    A sports star is gay? Really?? And this is news?

    April 29, 2013 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  21. Mandor

    No one really cares who's gay or who's straight. None of our business and doesn't really affect us in any way.

    Which if you stop to think about it, is probably a good thing that no one really cares.

    April 29, 2013 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  22. Felix

    Thanks Mr. President to recognize a person is gay. Did I pay my taxes for you to do this?

    April 29, 2013 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  23. Timothy

    BREAKING NEWS!!! The national debt is fixed, unemployment is at an all time low, the troops are coming home and all the countries have signed peace treaties. Kim Jong Un called Obama and has agreed to talk and to give his support for Jason Collins for coming out, and I quote "It takes courage to do what he has done today". So I guess Obama does have the time to make this his focus today since America is now fixed under his leadership.

    April 29, 2013 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  24. DH

    Yes there are more important things then what people do in their bedrooms and what a women does with their uterus or birth control.

    April 29, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |

    Wow...its amazing how many haters and narrow-minded bigots come out of the woodwork when someone goes public with this sort of news. It's as if THEY know what God intended and THEY can afford to be that judgemental. Come, join us in the enlightened 21st century. I know it's hard to put the writings of a 2,000 year old bestseller in perspective but civilization has advanced WAY beyond those early days. That was then...this is now. I really don't think an athlete announcing that he is gay will bring about the end of the world as we know it. Of course, the snarky smirking fools on FIX news will crack their idiotic jokes and pander to their ignorant, racist audience. So basically, life will go on as if NOTHING has changed.

    April 29, 2013 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
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