In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, NBA center Jason Collins says he’s the happiest he’s ever been since coming out yesterday.
The new that Collins is gay – delivered through a Sports Illustrated cover story – quickly made headlines across the nation. Everyone from Kobe Bryant, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Spike Lee are just a few of the prominent individuals to express their support.
Collins is now the first openly gay male player on a major U.S. sports team.
“I know that I, right now, am the happiest that I’ve ever been in my life,” he said. “A huge weight has been lifted. I’ve already been out to my family and my friends, but just to, you know, sort of rip the Band-Aid off and come out on my own terms.”
By shattering one of the final barriers in U.S. sports, Collins said he hopes other gay athletes will “raise their hand” and realize that being gay in pro sports is not that big of a deal.
“You’re sort of waiting around for somebody else to ? raise their hand,” he said. “I’m ready to raise my hand but, you know, you still look around like, ‘OK, come on, guys.’ It’s time for someone else in the room to raise their hand and say, ‘You know what? Yeah, so big deal. I can still play basketball. I can still help the team win, and that’s what’s most important.'”
Collins also detailed his struggles accepting his identity, and what spurred his decision to live his truth.
Through the sleepless nights and years of silence, Collins still had basketball, which provided something to which he could devote his life. But when NBA owners locked out players and delayed the start of the 2011-12 season, Collins was reminded that basketball wasn’t always going to be there for him.
“And I started thinking about, ‘What is the rest of my life going to be?'” he said.
The tipping point to go public came after Collins told his parents and received a positive response.
Check out a clip of the interview HERE
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