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Ex-Celtic Jason Collins: ‘I, right now, am the happiest that I’ve ever been in my life’

04.30.13 at 2:10 pm ET
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Collins_Jason-SI cover 5-13Jason Collins had a sit-down interview with “Good Morning America” that aired on Tuesday morning, and he said that he has received “incredible” support since coming out as a gay man on Monday. With his recent revelation, Collins has become the first openly gay player in one of the four major U.S. sports leagues.

“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.

Collins’ announcement was featured in a first-person article on Sports Illustrated’s website Monday and will be appearing as the cover story in next week’s issue. Collins was asked by Stephanopoulos if he hopes 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 said. “I know that I, right now, am the happiest that I’ve ever been in my life.”

The former Celtics center has received a nearly unanimous positive response and lots of support, including a phone call from President Barack Obama.

“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 also spoke of former tennis star Martina Navratilova‘s decision to come out in 1981, and calls her his “role model.” He added that he could hopefully become someone else’s role model in the future.

Collins, who averaged 1.1 points per game this season with the Celtics and Wizards, is a free agent who plans to continue his career and is expecting continued support.

“From my teammates, I’m expecting support because that’s what I would do for my teammates,” Collins said. “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.”

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