Collins: Support after coming out 'incredible'
(AP) -- Jason Collins said he has gotten "incredible" support since coming out as the first openly gay player in one of the four major U.S. pro sports leagues, and hopes he may have made the path easier for others to follow.
Collins sat down for an interview that was aired by ABC's "Good Morning America" on Tuesday, one day after the veteran NBA center revealed his sexuality in a first-person story posted on Sports Illustrated's website.
"I think, I know, in my personal life, I'm ready and I think the country is ready for supporting an openly gay basketball player," Collins told ABC's George Stephanopoulos.
ABC aired the interview in two segments, with Stephanopoulos asking Collins in the second portion if he hoped that other players will follow his example.
"I hope that every player makes a decision that leads to their own happiness, whatever happiness that is in life," Collins responded. "I know that I, right now, am the happiest that I've ever been in my life."
Collins said he went through something akin to a 12-step program while deciding to come out, dealing with emotions such as anger and denial.
"But when you finally get to that point of acceptance, there's nothing more beautiful than just allowing yourself to really be happy and be comfortable in your own skin," Collins said.
Dozens of NBA players sent messages to Collins after the story was posted Monday, many doing so through social media. The support didn't stop there, with President Barack Obama also calling to offer his support.
"It's incredible. Just try to live an honest, genuine life and the next thing you know you have the president calling you," Collins said. "He was incredibly supportive and he was proud of me, said this not only affected my life but others going forward."
Collins said he does not know of any other gay NBA players. He also told ABC that he was overwhelmed by the reaction of tennis legend Martina Navratilova, who came out in 1981 and called him a pioneer after he went public with his story.
"I look at her as one of my heroes, the dignity and class that she's lived her life and all that she's achieved in her career," Collins said. "She is my role model. Hopefully going forward I can be someone else's role model."
Collins averaged 1.1 points this season for the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards. He will be a free agent this offseason, and plans to continue his career.
"From my teammates, I'm expecting support because that's what I would do for my teammates," Collins told ABC. "A team is like a family. The NBA is like a brotherhood. And I'm looking at it like we all support each other, on and off the court."
Asked by Stephanopoulos what his story could mean to youth who play basketball and are worried about their futures because they are gay, Collins offered a simple piece of advice.
"It doesn't matter that you're gay. The key thing is that it's about basketball," Collins said. "It's about working hard, it's about sacrificing for your team. It's all about dedication. That's what you should focus on."
In the second part of the ABC interview, Collins discussed what it was like to come out to his family and people closest to him. In the SI piece, Collins said that the first relative he came out to was his aunt, Teri Jackson, a San Francisco Superior Court Judge - "so I guess she's good at reading people," Collins told ABC.
"When you keep telling yourself a lie, at some point you buy your own cover story, like a CIA spy or something," Collins said.
His own twin brother, Jarron Collins, had no idea about his brother's orientation.
"I am really good at playing it straight," Jason Collins said, laughing at his own joke. "Maybe he needs to hang out with my aunt a little more, get a discerning eye like she has."
Collins told Stephanopoulos that he one day hopes to be married and have children, but currently describes his relationship status as single.
"I tried everything in the book as far as trying to convince myself to lead the life that you should," said Collins, who dated women in the past and was once engaged. "Calling off the wedding was obviously a tough decision, but it was the right one, because I knew I wasn't getting married for the right reasons."
ABC said the interview was taped Monday night in Los Angeles.
Updated April 30, 2013
We check in for our weekly update from Bill Belichick and get his take on the Pats win over the Texans on the road, the benching of Stevan Ridley, and Antonio Smith's thinly veiled Spygate comments after the Texans lost.
Patriots’ defensive end, Rob Ninkovich, joins Mut and Merloni on a Patriots Monday after the team’s victory in Houston. Rob addresses the postgame comments of Texans’ defensive lineman Antonio Smith and the defense struggling against the run.
Tom Brady joined the show fresh off the teams 9th win of the season in Houston. He dismissed Antonio Smith's spying allegations and told the guys he has already moved on.
Eagle checks in to give Grande and Max a perspective on the Brooklyn Nets after they acquired Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett via trade earlier this summer. He breaks down what he thinks the future holds for the Nets after completing this blockbuster deal.
Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell take some time and look back at the history between the Celtics and the Lakers, specifically the legendary rivalry between Magic and Bird. Legendary broadcaster, Ian Eagle, checks in to give the Brooklyn perspective as KG and Paul Pierce settle into their new home. Sean and Max also reveal the behind the scenes details surrounding Max’s famous “I got the ball” moment.
In the first hour of this edition of the Celtics Summer Cooler, Grande and Max analyze the trade that sent Fab Melo out of Boston. Also in this hour, Max sets the story straight about his history with Larry Bird.
Rob Bradford and Alex Speier talk with Jon Lester about contract negotiations, losing a teammate like Jacoby Ellsbury, the World Series run, and looking ahead to 2014.
Rob Bradford and Alex Speier are back witht he Hot Stove Show. They talk about Jacoby Ellsbury signing with the New York Yankees, the Red Sox signings of AJ Pierzynski and Edward Mujica, and wrap it up with Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester, who talks about the World Series run, losing a teammate like Ellsbury and looking towards 2014.
The Red Sox new catcher, A.J. Pierzynski, joined the show to discuss his reputation as the most hated man in baseball. He also said that he turned down multi-year deals to come and win in Boston.
Shawn Thornton joined the show and discussed the teams long layoff leading into their game tomorrow night in Montreal. He told the guys that he anticipates fighting being a part of hockey for years to come.
Lucic joins Danny Picard to talk some hockey after the team’s overtime win against the Carolina Hurricanes. Danny asks Lucic about David Krejci’s game winner yesterday and hockey outsiders that are trying to change the game.
Shawn Thornton joined the show fresh off his big night at MSG and talked about his recent goal scoring prowess. Shawn said that no matter who his line mates are he is always going to be a fourth liner.
Kirk Minihane answered any and all questions from the listeners and John and Gerry.
The New York Post's Joel Sherman joined the show with his thoughts on jacoby Ellsbury's signing with the Yankees. He said that if it were up to him he would have given the money to Robinson Cano over Ellsbury.
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane. They discussed how Ron Burgundy has officially jumped the shark and played sound of him on Dan Patrick.
Peter King joins Mut and Merloni to go across the NFL and address the latest news. He discusses Kubiak's firing, Tomlin's fine, and Dennard's possible suspension.
Brick makes his weekly appearance on Mut and Merloni and discusses the Bruins loss to Montreal and the hit on Johnny Boychuck.
Michael Fabiano, fantasy expert and Yankees fan, gives his opinion on the Cano signing, discusses Julian Edelman's rising fantasy value, and actually suggests starting Ryan Fitzpatrick
We check in with Herm Edwards on the Pats, Stevan Ridley, and a great many things around the NFL.
We stir up a pot of crap when we debate the world cup and the popularity of soccer... pro callers, con-callers, plus Jack Edwards!
We tackle four topics at 4PM.
Ryder talks with WEEI.com's Chris Price about the Patriots upcoming game with the Cleveland Browns, and Stevan Ridley's status on the team.
Alex joins the show and gives his thoughts on the Jacoby Ellsbury deal, and what prospects the Red Sox have to fill the hole left in the lineup, or trade pieces to get a player who can fill the void.
John talks to Rob and gets his thoughts on the Yankees signing Jacoby Ellsbury, the Red Sox signing AJ Pierzynski, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia signing with Miami.
Mike Lupica of the Daily News joined the show to give the New York reaction to the Ellsbury signing. He said that the Yankees drastically overpaid.More from this show
The Red Sox new catcher, A.J. Pierzynski, joined the show to discuss his reputation as the most hated man in baseball. He also said that he turned down multi-year deals to come and win in Boston.More from this show
Johnny Damon joins Mut and Merloni to clear the air about his free agent signing with the Yankees and discusses Ellsbury's signing.More from this show
Buster Olney joins Mut and Merloni to discuss Jacoby Ellsbury signing with the Yankees and the possibility of the Red Sox trading for Andre Ethier.More from this show