1 May 2013

Jason Collins says he's never been happier

8:05 am on 1 May 2013

The US NBA basketball player Jason Collins says he's never been happier after his ground-breaking announcement that he's gay, and hopes other pro athletes will now come out too.

Collins has told ABC television that coming out lifted a huge weight off his shoulders and that he spent years hiding the truth so well that even his twin brother Jarron did not know he was gay.

Collins made his announcement in an essay published on Sports Illustrated magazine's website. It made him the first active player in a major American professional team sport to reveal he is gay.

Collins says right now he's the happiest that he's ever been in his life and a huge weight has been lifted.

Collins, who played this past season with the Washington Wizards and is now a free agent, dismissed the idea it might be harder for him to land a contract during the off season.

Among those who expressed support for Collins was US President Barack Obama, who called him to say he was impressed by his courage.

The revelation has drawn comparisons to the way the spotlight shone on Jackie Robinson in 1947 when he became Major League Baseball's first black player.