The first openly gay player in the four major US pro sports leagues, Jason Collins, says he's the “happiest I’ve ever been in my life” after coming out on the Sports Illustrated website on Monday.
In an exclusive interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos, the NBA star spoke about the news for the first time, saying, "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.”
Fellow players and President Barack Obama have already showed their support for the Washington Wizards player.
"It's incredible,” he said of hearing from President Obama. “Just try to live an honest, genuine life and the next thing you know you have the President calling you. He was incredibly supportive and he was proud of me, said this not only affected my life, but others going forward."
Martina Navratilova, a tennis pro who came out in 1981, called him a pioneer.
"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."
Jason also discussed his past relationship with WNBA player Carolyn Moos. The couple dated for eight years until he called off their engagement in 2009. The 34-year-old phoned Moos over the weekend to tell her he was coming out.
"I had to sit down," Moos told ESPN.com's Rick Reilly. "I was shocked. There's no words to really describe my reaction. ... But this does alleviate some of the pain. ... I'm so happy for him. He deserves to live the life he wants."