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WASHINGTON -- Jason Collins, the 12-year NBA veteran who announced that he was gay in a Sports Illustrated story last April, will be a guest of first lady Michelle Obama at Tuesday night's State of the Union address.
Collins will be among a handful of invited guests of the first lady for President Barack Obama's speech given to a joint session of Congress.
|Jason Collins spoke at the MTV Video Music Awards last August. Tuesday, he'll attend the State of the Union.|
"It's a big deal that the administration has extended its hand to not only me, but my family, and also sports fans and also the gay community," he told ESPN's LZ Granderson in an interview Tuesday morning. "I cover a lot of different topics."
He also told Granderson that he is staying in shape in hopes of playing again in the NBA, but said that he can only speculate if he'll get a call.
"I try to control what I can control and that's how hard I train right now," he said. "I know that I'm in great shape and that if I get an opportunity ... if an owner, coach, GM calls my agent ... I'll be ready to play."
Asked if being gay has harmed his ability to get a call, he said: "I have no idea. For me, again, it goes back to what I can control, and that's my training."
Asked what has changed for him since he came out, Collins said: "I get to be who I am. I don't have to walk around with a censor button. I don't have to walk around with 'don't say this, don't do this.'"
He also said he expects a gay athlete to come out in one of the major U.S. sports "a lot sooner than most people [think]. I would say within the next year." He pointed to soccer player Robbie Rogers and how he has been received as an example of what should happen.
"It's just going to take another great person to step forward and raise their hand," he said.
He also said that the major U.S. sports leagues, from their commissioners on down, "are creating an environment that would be accepting and supportive of those athletes."
He also said he applauded President Obama's choice of Billie Jean King to represent the U.S. delegation at the upcoming Sochi Olympics.
"I think it's great. I'm very proud of the president," he said. "I don't think you can find a better representative for our country than Billie Jean King."
He called Russia's anti-gay laws a "sad state of affairs" but said that the choice of any athlete to speak out on the topic is an individual decision.
Collins is no stranger to the first family. When he came out, among the calls he received that day was from President Obama, who told Collins he was proud of his courage.
In May, Collins headlined the Democratic National Committee's annual lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender gala. Michelle Obama was also at the May 29 fundraiser in New York.