Obamas praise Jason Collins: "We've got your back!"

Breaking a sports barrier, NBA center Jason Collins announced that he was gay in a cover story for Sports Illustrated. The veteran NBA center has become the first male professional athlete in the major four American sports leagues to come out as gay. Collins wrote a first-person account posted April 29, 2013 on Sports Illustrated's website. Collins (seen in this September 2012 file photos as a member of the Boston Celtics) finished this past season with the Washington Wizards and is now a free agent. He joins a growing list of international sports stars who have come out publicly in recent years. Michael Dwyer/AP

President Obama called NBA player Jason Collins Monday to offer his support after Collins announced he's gay, becoming the first openly gay major league professional athlete, CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett has learned.

The president offered congratulations and support on Collins' courage and willingness to be the first in the four dominant pro sports to make this announcement.

First lady Michelle Obama also showed her support for Collins on Twitter Monday.

"So proud of you, Jason Collins! This is a huge step forward for our country. We've got your back!" she tweeted, signing it "-mo," which indicates she - not an aide - sent the message.

Earlier Monday, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters he hadn't talked to President Obama about Collins' announcement but said "that here at the White House we view that as another example of the progress that has been made and the evolution that has been taking place in this country, and commend him for his courage, and support him in this effort and hope that his fans and his team support him going forward."

  • Steve Chaggaris

    Steve Chaggaris is CBSNews.com's Executive Editor, Washington.

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