Basketballer Jason Collins announces he is gay

Boston Celtics center Jason Collins in action on January 30, 2013
© AP Photos
Washington Wizards basketball player Jason Collins becomes the first major American sportsman to come out as gay, announcing his sexuality on Monday.

NBA basketball player Jason Collins has become the first major American sportsman to out himself as gay.

The Washington Wizards centre, who has spent 12 seasons playing for six different NBA franchises, revealed his previously-hidden sexuality in Sports Illustrated on Monday.

"I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay," Collins wrote in an article for the magazine.

"I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation.

"I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, 'I'm different.' If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand."

President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton and NBA star Kobe Bryant were among those to deliver public messages of support to Collins following his announcement.

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