WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama called Jason Collins on Monday to express gratitude for the NBA player's decision to publicly announce that he is gay, two sources familiar with the call told The Huffington Post.
A White House official confirmed that call, saying that the president wanted to "express his support" and tell Collins that "he was impressed by his courage."
The call came several hours after Sports Illustrated published an essay by Collins announcing his decision to come out and explaining why he had waited until now to make the announcement.
Collins, 34 years old, has been a journeyman center in the NBA since graduating from Stanford. In penning his Sports Illustrated essay, he became the first openly gay male athlete to be currently playing in one of the major sports.
The announcement took both the sports world and the LGBT community by surprise, with one gay rights activist telling The Huffington Post they were "caught off-guard" by Collins' announcement, but adding that they were thrilled at the overwhelming public support the player has received.
Several politicians have applauded Collins' decision to come out. First Lady Michelle Obama tweeted her support, while former President Bill Clinton -- whose daughter went to school with Collins -- offered a statement exalting his courage.
Collins is set to make his first public remarks since coming out on Tuesday morning on ABC's "Good Morning America."