Image: FILE:  NBA Player Jason Collins Comes Out As Gay
Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

TODAY   |  April 30, 2013

Gay NBA player gets call of support from Obama

When Washington Wizards player Jason Collins came out on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated magazine, he became the first openly gay pro athlete. Support has poured in from the president, Chelsea Clinton, fellow players and more. NBC’s Peter Alexander reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

this announcement by jason collins is groundbreaking, called a game changer. it comes at a time when attitudes toward kbas and gay rights are changing rapidly.

>> many nba players, even the president are offering support. in a moment we'll talk to another pioneer in the world of sports, martina navratilova . first peter alexander has more on how people are reacting to collins 's announcement. good morning to you.

>> reporter: jason collins 's announcement has largely been met with a chorus of approval. he wrapped up his 12th nba season in washington for the wizards. overnight he broke down one of the last barriers in professional team sports writing three simple sentences, i'm a 34-year-old nba center. i'm black, and i'm gay.

>> reporter: jason collins is no longer just a towering figure on the court, but in sports history . just hours after he came out in sports illustrated the news raced across the nba .

>> this is a game we play, a sport we play. it doesn't change anything if you're heterosexual, homosexual.

>> as long as he's happy it's cool with me.

>> reporter: the president called collins to offer support. former classmate chelsea clinton cheered her friend for having the strength and courage to be the first. for years collins said fear kept him living a lie until now writing in " sports illustrated ," i want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. i want to take a stand and say, me too. collins lived a double life , getting engaged to a woman, hiding his secret from his twin brother who also played in the nba .

>> he said, five years ago i wouldn't have considered this. it's a different world.

>> reporter: on the court he wore the number 98, the year of one of the nation's worst anti-gay hate crime. when a gay college student was kidnapped and murdered in wyoming. john amici came out in 2007 after his nba career.

>> it's certainly time that sexuality stopped being something you could persecute people for. maybe jason is the guy that could make that happen.

>> reporter: collins said he knew he had to go public when he learned from joe kennedy he marched in the 2012 gay pride parade and he's straight. collins said he will be there with his friend joe kennedy when they march june 8.