Former US president Bill Clinton has praised Jason Collins for going public about his sexuality, becoming the first NBA player to come out as gay and continue their career.

Collins, an NBA veteran of 11 seasons, spoke out his sexuality in an article he wrote for Sports Illustrated.

Responding to the news, Bill Clinton said in a statement:

“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.”

Chelsea Clinton tweeted: “Very proud of my friend Jason Collins for having the strength & courage to be the first openly gay player in the NBA.”