Kobe Bryant, Bill Clinton, David Stern and others support Jason Collins

Jay Busbee

On Monday morning, longtime NBA center Jason Collins announced to the world that he is gay, the first active professional athlete in any of the four major sports to do so. For years, even decades, one major concern about an athlete coming out has been the possible reaction from his peers. Judging from the stature of Collins' supporters, he made the right decision in coming out.

[Photos: NBA veteran center Jason Collins announces he is gay]

Kobe Bryant:

President Bill Clinton:

I have known Jason Collins since he was Chelsea's classmate and friend at Stanford. Jason's announcement today is an important moment for professional sports and in the history of the LGBT community. It is also the straightforward statement of a good man who wants no more than what so many of us seek: to be able to be who we are; to do our work; to build families and to contribute to our communities. For so many members of the LGBT community, these simple goals remain elusive. I hope that everyone, particularly Jason's colleagues in the NBA, the media and his many fans extend to him their support and the respect he has earned.

First Lady Michelle Obama:

NBA Commissioner David Stern:

“As Adam Silver and I said to Jason, we have known the Collins family since Jason and Jarron joined the NBA in 2001 and they have been exemplary members of the NBA family," Stern said in a statement. "Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue.”

Former NBA player and fellow Los Angeles native Baron Davis:

Steve Nash:

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova:

Former NFL star Michael Strahan:

Collins' twin brother Jarron, in Sports Illustrated:

"It's a big deal -- but it's also not a big deal. When the media crush is over, Jason will have the strength to deal with whatever challenges come from being openly gay ... Today, Jason has taken a huge weight off his shoulders. And I've never been more proud of him."

Statement from the Washington Wizards:

“We are extremely proud of Jason and support his decision to live his life proudly and openly. He has been a leader on and off the court and an outstanding teammate throughout his NBA career. Those qualities will continue to serve him both as a player and as a positive role model for others of all sexual orientation.”

Wizards guard Garrett Temple, with whom Collins played after the trade deadline this season:

Fellow Wizards teammate, rookie Bradley Beal:

Former NBA player Nick Van Exel, who served as a player development instructor with the Atlanta Hawks while Collins played in Atlanta during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons:

Denver Nuggets power forward Kenneth Faried, who has two mothers and earlier this year became the first NBA player to sign on with Athlete Ally, an organization working to end homophobia in sports:

Filmmaker Kevin Smith (@thatkevinsmith):

Los Angeles Clippers guard Chauncey Billups: "I'm proud of [Collins]. I'm proud that he is able to comfortable in his own skin and be who he is. He was comfortable enough to come out. Now I'm pretty sure he feels free and feels like he can live a little bit. The world is different now. This is how the world is today. I'm happy he had the courage to do it."

Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace: "As we all know, if you hold things in, it brings unnecessary stress to your heart and your mind. When you can release it and talk about it, you feel better. That's how it should be with anything, not just coming out being gay or mental issue or whatever other stigma is there, you should feel better and feel like you can say what you want as long as you’re respectful."

Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson: "As a Christian man, I have beliefs of what's right and what's wrong. That being said, I know Jason Collins, I know his family and I'm certainly praying for them at this time."

Not all remarks were entirely positive, however.

Chris Broussard, ESPN NBA writer:
"Personally, I don't believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly premarital sex between heterosexuals, if you're openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says you know them by their fruits, it says that's a sin. If you're openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be, I believe that's walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I do not think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian."

Mike Wallace of the Dolphins wondered about the gay lifestyle, then rapidly deleted the tweet. This one remains:

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